Seminole school employees to receive training on political activities after report released

Updated:

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

In May, Channel 9 Eyewitness News reported on pro-tax signs found piled up in one high school break room just ahead of a hotly contested referendum vote in Seminole County.
 
Channel 9 also learned a principal was encouraging his employees to use them.
 
The referendum, which passed, increased the sales tax in the county by 1 cent and will put millions of dollars into the school system.
 
An internal investigation shows that school district officials were giving out hundreds of the pro-tax signs to school leaders.
 
District leaders said they did not hand them out on school property, but did it off school property and on their own time.
 
The investigation looked at four schools that were the targets of complaints about the signs.
 
The 35-page investigation determined the four schools violated district policy by handing out the yard signs.
 
Records include a memo from the district's chief financial officer that said, "please distribute [the signs] to employees and parents right away."
 
The report determined that top officials did not make it clear that employees were not supposed to distribute the signs on school property or while they were working.
 
Seminole County School Superintendent Walt Griffin sent Channel 9's Tim Barber a statement, which read, "I am mandating comprehensive and specific training on school board policy 9.80 concerning political activity, which will be conducted by an outside expert."
 
Barber also learned that school officials are considering changes to their political-activity policies in an effort to make sure they are clearly understood.