School & District Management A National Roundup

Portland, Ore., Superintendent Fined for Pre-Election Letter to Parents

By Rhea R. Borja — May 24, 2005 1 min read
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The Oregon secretary of state has fined the superintendent of the Portland school district and her acting communications director $175 each for violating election law.

A letter that Superintendent Vicki Phillips sent to parents Sept. 13, drafted by Brenda Gustafson, the interim communications director, wasn’t neutral enough on school funding, according to a compliance specialist in the secretary of state’s election division.

“Educating and preparing our children to lead our community, state, and nation is, without a doubt, the most important endeavor we undertake,” Ms. Phillips wrote.

The letter was sent before voters decided whether to repeal a temporary county personal-income tax that gives up to $91 million annually to the eight school districts in Multnomah County for three years.

“We felt that we were being factual,” Ms. Gustafson said.

Ms. Phillips and Ms. Gustafson paid the fines to their 47,650-student school district.

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