June 18, 2009

San Leandro School District Prevails at California Supreme Court

In a ruling issued on June 18, 2009, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the San Leandro Unified School District (SLUSD) in a case involving use of district mailboxes. In its decision, the court wrote, "The SLTA sought a writ of mandate to compel the District to reverse its policy against candidate endorsement literature in school mailboxes. Because we determine the District’s policy is lawful, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal reversing the trial court’s granting of SLTA’s writ petition."

The case arose out of the use of district mailboxes by the San Leandro Teachers Association (SLTA) during the 2004 election campaign. The SLTA distributed newsletters to its members in their district mailboxes that included information about SLTA-endorsed candidates, including requests for volunteers to help those candidates.

In October 2004, the SLUSD informed the SLTA that section 7054 of the Education Code prohibited use of district mailboxes to distribute flyers that contain political endorsements.

Section 7054 of the Education Code states:

7054. (a) No school district or community college district funds, services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.

The SLTA filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) in November 2004, which was dismissed in June 2005. Then the case went to the courts, where a trial court decided in favor of the SLTA, but the Court of Appeals decided in favor of the SLUSD.

The SLTA now has the option to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at June 18, 2009 12:21 PM | TrackBack
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