Opinion No. KP-0177
The Honorable Paul Bettencourt
Chair, Select Committee on Property Tax Reform
Texas State Senate
Post Office Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711-2068
Re: Restrictions on the use of a school district's public funds to provide transportation to and from polling places and for political communications for or against a particular measure or candidate (RQ-0201-KP)
S U M M A R Y
Absent an educational purpose in providing students transportation to the polling locations, a court would likely conclude that the transportation serves no public purpose of the school district and therefore violates article III, section 52(a) of the Texas Constitution.
If a school district employee has no responsibility or duty to perform on behalf of the school district at the polling location, a court would likely conclude that a school district's funding of transportation to the polling location for that individual serves no public purpose of the school district and therefore violates article III, section 52(a) of the Texas Constitution.
Section 11.169 of the Education Code prohibits a board of trustees of a school district from using public funds to work for a particular measure or candidate. In addition, subsection 255.003(a) of the Election Code makes it a criminal offense for an officer or employee of a school district to knowingly spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising. A court would likely conclude that the use of public funds to link to an Internet website promoting a specific candidate or measure is itself a communication supporting or opposing a candidate or measure in violation of this provision.
For further information, please access the website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call the Opinion Committee at (512) 463-2110.
Office of the Attorney General
Filed: January 17, 2018