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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Who knew what in Pasco's school electioneering mess?



Incensed that Democrats from Organizing for America found their way into Pasco County high school classrooms, the local Republican Party requested any records that might give a hint as to who spoke before students and how they got there. 

The district provided about 50 pages of e-mails that offer some insights into some basic questions.

First, did anyone misrepresent themselves in gaining access to students? At Gulf High, the center of the storm, the answer appears to be No.

The day after an OFA speaker made a partisan speech before students, Gulf social studies department chair Claudia Alwood fired an e-mail to OFA regional organizer Allison Bryan complaining. "I am very concerned over what happened at Gulf High regarding what we thought was to be an objective, voter registration talk," Alwood wrote. "It is my recommendation to the administration ... that we no longer allow your group to speak at Gulf High."

At other schools, though, the answer isn't so clear. District social studies supervisor Paula Lesko reported in an e-mail to the communications office that leaders at Fivay and Hudson high schools told her that three people, at least two of them former county teachers, had been at their schools registering students. "In at least one case, those individuals said they were from the Pasco Supervisor of Elections Office," Lesko wrote. "Unfortunately, the SOE said that is not the case."

Second, did party speakers get into any other schools? That's a yes.

The district's email survey of principals revealed that OFA had volunteers registering students at Wiregrass Ranch High at the school open house. Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills high schools also had third-party registrations take place, but did not identify the group. 

Anclote, River Ridge and Ridgewood high schools turned down outside requests. And Pasco High reported no such requests at all.

The GOP plans discuss the issue at its state meeting this weekend, to determine if the party wants to pursue any actions. Supervisor of elections Brian Corley said he has not been involved with the issue since providing e-mails to the district, which were then handed over to the Republicans. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 12:35pm]


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