DENVER - The school district says it's just a letter meant to inform the public about an important ballot measure regarding schools. Ben Vinci, a parent of a Denver student, says it's a violation of trust.
"The fact is we provide our email addresses for notifications for the school, notifications of events taking place, notifications of things for our 3rd grader," Vinci said. "I didn't feel it was a proper use."
Amendment 66 is a proposal that would raise income taxes from 4.63 percent to a two-tiered system - 5.00 percent of taxable income under $75,000, 5.90 percent for taxable income above that. It will generate nearly a billion dollars extra for Colorado schools each year.
Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg sent an email entitled, "Information of Amendment 66 Ballot Proposal to Change Colorado's School Funding Structure." The letter highlighted that DPS would receive an additional $130 million if passed to use things like expanding pre-school and full-day kindergarten; expanding enrichment programs like art and music; and improving classroom technology.
Vinci says it's too one-sided.
"If they're gonna use our email addresses, which are private, which we provide to the school, both points need to be made to the parents," Vinci said.
Denver School Board President Mary Sewell says the email from Boasberg is just a response to questions many parents have about the potential impact of Amendment 66. She says it was purely informational and did not take sides.
"I think informing the public is critical. I think Amendment 66 is such an important investment in our state and people have the right to know how the district would use that money," Sewell said.
She says that the school district's attorneys looked over the email and felt that it did not violate the Fair Campaign Practices Act.
"The only people who really understand how that money would be used would be people within the district," Sewell said. "It was simply a communication of that."
A spokesperson from the Secretary of State's office, Andrew Cole, said the spirit of the statute is to prevent governmental entities or public officials from using their positions to influence elections. Cole says it's unclear if this email violated the law. He says the Secretary of State's Office would need to receive a formal complaint before fully investigating any issue and taking any action for law infractions.
Read the email
Sewell says the district is just being transparent.
"I do feel like it's being responsive and as a district we have to do that," Sewell said.
Vinci feels the fair thing to do is to send one more email, a counter-point.
"I believe that there's already a lot of waste in the school system and a lot of money and resources that are not properly used," Vinci said.
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