Some Oklahoma teachers confused about mass email sent to educators work addresses

Posted at 5:08 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-11 16:39:52-04

TULSA, Okla. -- Some Oklahoma teachers are confused after getting an email they feel was politically motivated.

The email encourages teachers to research the education plan of the Republican Gubernatorial Candidate, Kevin Stitt.

For some teachers, the email raised questions of ethics violations concerning a member of the Oklahoma Education Association. Many Oklahoma teachers opened their inboxes Monday morning to the email.

The sender described themselves as a long-term member of the OEA asking teachers to check out Stitt’s plan for education.

"I was confused more than anything,” Shawna Mott-Wright with the Tulsa Classroom Teacher’s Association and OEA representative said.

The email was sent from a personal account, but the OEA said it wasn't ethical.

“They were not speaking for the OEA,” Mott-Wright said.

She said teachers are prohibited from using their work emails for political purposes.

"Educators are not allowed to use school email to talk about who they recommend candidate-wise,” Mott-Wright said.

Teachers can use personal emails to speak politically but cannot send them to teacher’s work email addresses.

"Every individual has the right to endorse or recommend whomever they want, whenever they want, short of using school email or on contract time,” Mott-Wright said.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission said they don't handle these types of violations. The issue at hand would be dealt with by the Department of Education or based on the school districts individual policies.

Many teachers also thought  Kevin Stitt’s campaign was behind the email, however, a spokesperson for Stitt said that is not true.

“Our campaign does not know [the sender], but we appreciate her thoughtful words to her network asking people to consider Kevin’s education plan. We’ve been sharing a copy of our plan for the past several weeks with teachers and education leaders across the state seeking final input. I can’t guarantee who all have seen it up to this point as we weren’t shy about requesting feedback from various educators and their friends. We did not depend on associations or lobbyists but talked to Oklahoma educators directly. The Oklahoman had the first news story about our education plan, which published on their website at 5 a.m. Monday.”

As for how the sender was able to obtain teachers email addresses, those are public record found on the Department of Education’s website.

It is unclear if the sender will face consequences for the email.

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