UPPAC Q&A: Teachers and Campaigning

Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission Q & A

Q: I am a high school social studies teacher in a big school district. I do not live in the community where I teach. My brother-in-law is running for our local school board and I would like to put one of his lawn signs in my yard.

I would also like to campaign for him in my neighborhood. I talk to my students both about election laws and about ethics (or lack of it!) in government and politics. So it is important to me to act both legally and ethically as a public school teacher. What can I do?—Ethical Social Studies Teacher

A: We do not give up our rights as citizens and voters when we become public school educators. In fact, continuing to care about the policies and governance in our communities provides an excellent role model for students.

HOWEVER, you should not take your opinions about specific candidates or elections into your classroom—even for non-partisan school board races. Bumper stickers—even on your car at school—probably OK. But do not actively discuss or campaign for your brother in-law at school.

What is UPPAC? UPPAC is a committee of nine educators and two community members charged with maintaining and promoting a high standard of professional conduct and ethics among Utah teachers. It is advisory to the Utah State Board of Education in making recommendations regarding educator licensing and may take appropriate disciplinary action regarding educator misconduct.

For more information about UPPAC or to submit your questions to the UPPAC Q&A, contact William Spiegel at william.spiegel@schools.utah.gov or by phone at 801-538-7500.

Read the UPPAC newsletter, “Utah School Law Update,” for more Utah public education legal news and information.

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