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Texas AG Ken Paxton sues school district after principals accused of violating election laws

The Texas attorney general sued a school district after two principals used school accounts to urge staff to vote in the GOP primary for candidates opposing school vouchers.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, has filed a lawsuit against a school district in the state after two principals allegedly violated election laws by encouraging school staff, using school accounts, to vote in the GOP primary and recommending candidates who oppose school vouchers.

Two leaked emails allegedly sent on Denton Independent School District accounts encouraged school staff to vote in the Republican primary and directed them to a scorecard showing candidates' stances on public education funding.

One email from Alexander Elementary School Principal Lindsey Lujan, dated Feb. 5, urged teachers and staff at a school in the district to vote in the Republican primary and included a link to a list of recommended state candidates who support public education and school funding while opposing school voucher programs.

"The Texas Legislature has not increased the public school allotment per student since 2019, even with inflation going up! No school in Texas, including Denton ISD will NOT [sic] be able to provide raises next year if legislation doesn't change," the email reads in part. "We need to do our part for our Texas Public School! Here is a list of all candidates and whether or not [they] SUPPORT or OPPOSE Public School Education."

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In response to the email, Paxton sued Denton ISD for illegal electioneering by use of public tax money, according to Fox 4.

The attorney general's office accuses Lujan of using her district email account to draft and send the message. It cites the Texas Election Code's banning the use of "state or local funds or other resources of the district to electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party."

The lawsuit also takes issue with a second email allegedly sent by Borman Elementary Principal Jesus Lujan, who is the husband of Lindsey Lujan, to staff members at that school.

"Voting in Republican Primaries is especially important because the votes cast in primaries inform the issues that the party will prioritize," that email reads in part. "Since TX tends to always elect a Republican, we want to inform the party through our primary votes which issues we care about and how we feel about them. Thus, vote for candidates who support public education and school funding in the Republican primaries, no matter what your party affiliation is, Republican or Democrat. Consider thinking from a 'purple' mindset in future elections, voting for the candidate that will support public ed and funding in the future, despite their party affiliation."

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The email added, "Please know that historically, 85% of PRIMARY voters in TX want vouchers. That's why it's so important that teachers and public school and funding advocates show up in the primaries."

Texas claims that both principals "egregiously overstepped what is legal."

The district told CBS News Texas it has not received any communication from the Texas Ethics Commission about the emails and that it cannot comment publicly on matters regarding personnel.

However, the district did say it has been in communication with the attorney general's office following the lawsuit and agrees that election laws should be followed.

"Our Board of School Trustees adopted board policies in 2018 and 2021 regarding elections and campaign ethics, and we train all trustees and administrators on these policies annually. It is our expectation that these policies be followed," the district said in a statement. "Our employees' passion for serving our students and community is undeniable. The current primary elections on March 5 are especially significant for public education. These elected officials will make crucial decisions that impact our students, teachers, families and our district as a whole."

The district also encourages all registered voters to "do their homework and learn about the candidates and their positions before they vote in the primary of their choosing."

The attorney general's office cannot file a criminal suit, but it says it will "seek civil injunctive relief to attain a court order prohibiting school districts from engaging in unlawful attempts to influence elections."

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