Dear Dr. Sanchioni,
As the parent of a fifth grader, I regularly receive communications from the Natick School Department. Most of these I find useful and informative, as they relate directly to my daughter, her schooling, and the events that surround that schooling.
What they do not involve, however, is the School Department effectively taking a political position on a pending ballot measure, and using its public funding and mouthpiece to advocate for its own viewpoint on that ballot measure.
Until this morning, that is.
Today, I received an email which linked to Natick Together for Youth, an advocacy group on the issue of Drug Free Schools. In particular, it linked to a non-objective “information sheet” on ballot measure #3, which would legalize medical use of marijuana for individuals who meet certain medical criteria. This organization—and particularly the “information sheet” to which the email linked—have a strong position against the ballot measure.
Allow me to be clear—my problem with the School Department’s email has nothing to do with my feelings on Ballot Measure 3, about which I have no strong feelings in one direction or another. However, I do have very strong feelings about the School Department--a public institution entrusted with providing unbiased, objective education to the students of the town—making use of both public funds and a mailing list which should only be used for the dissemination of materials directly relevant to the schooling of these students to attempt to influence the outcome of the election.
This is especially egregious considering that individuals in Natick vote in the public schools. As residents, we are not allowed to wear buttons supporting candidates or ballot measures into the voting booth, but we are expected to vote in an institution which itself takes positions on those measures? This is unacceptable.
Politics is not the purview of the School Department, and as such, an immediate retraction of the email and an apology to all Natick residents should be issued—as well as a pledge that the School Department will no longer participate in electioneering.
CC: Natick Board of Selectmen