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$174-million Belton ISD bond passes, now some people against want an investigation

A group of residents and parents say electioneering happened and want to look deeper into the situation. But did the district violate ethics?

BELTON, Texas — The nearly $174-million dollar bond that just passed last month for Belton ISD is being called into question.

A group of parents in the Belton community, who opposed the bonds, are saying officials in the district violated Texas election code and used school resources to advocate for a position in the most recent bond election.

Brenda Howard, a Belton resident who opposed the bonds strongly saying the district needed to address issues of overcrowding in south Belton, says the foul play must be investigated.

"I'm hoping Gov. Abbott orders an investigation by the TEA [Texas Education Code]," Howard said. "I hope they come in and look at this evidence. They look at this evidence and they see that electioneering did happen and hopefully the people who are responsible are held accountable."

Belton ISD's Jennifer Bailey denounced any wrongdoings and says the district clearly and regularly disclosed details of the bonds to the public and did not urge any teachers or staff to take a side, but rather encouraged people to exercise their right to vote.

Bailey said in a statement, "Belton ISD leaders shared facts with stakeholders to educate constituents on the propositions and the impact the election could have on district operations. Belton ISD worked closely with legal counsel throughout the process. We encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote. Voter data is public information through the Secretary of State."

Belton ISD parent Christina Wilson says she feels that the schools used young students to promote the bonds to parents, sending home kids with stickers talking about the bonds.

"To me, that was very alarming. But I mean, that wasn't the first time that I've seen any sort of corruption going on or questions of ethics," Wilson said. 

Howard, Wilson and others are citing Section 255.003(a) of the Texas Election Code which states "an officer or employee of a political subdivision may not knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising ... school district officials may not use public resources to advocate for or against particular political candidates and/or groups of political candidates."

Wilson says the stickers are proof that school resources were used to advocate for the bond.

Bailey did not comment on the stickers, but says Belton ISD denounces the claims asserted by this group. 

We asked Wilson more about the stickers and she said, "every kid that day went home with a sticker. And there were several parents in our group who reached out and said 'what...' this is wrong ethically on so many levels."

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