Political Activity Rules
Rules on Campaign Activities for College Employees
July 31, 2020
With elections coming in November, the campaign season is officially under way, and this often leads to questions about how employees of public institutions like College of the Canyons can participate in political campaigns. The Public Information Office would like to provide this reminder of the laws regarding political and election activities.
The information provided in this memo has been shared before, but many new employees have joined the college recently, and all of us can use a refresher on the rules. And, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind given our current remote operations. The following information is summarized from L.A. County Office of Education guidelines, the SCCCD Board Policy Manual, and state Education Code, sections 7050 to 7058.
The laws protect everyone’s First Amendment right to vote their consciences, voice their opinions and participate in campaigns. However, school and college district trustees, officials and employees have restrictions and prohibitions that govern their involvement in political and election activities.
Public funds and resources cannot be used to support or oppose any candidate or ballot measure.
1. Employees and others may not use district resources, which include facilities, equipment or supplies, to campaign for or against ballot measures or candidates, including any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.
This rule restricts production of campaign materials. For example:
- The Reprographics department cannot print campaign materials, even if the district is reimbursed for the cost.
- District paper, printers, computers, duplicating equipment, etc., cannot be used for creating campaign materials or advocating for candidates in any way.
- District funds cannot be used to produce materials off campus either, and district time cannot be used.
This rule also restricts distribution of campaign messages. For example:
- The district’s telephones, computers, laptops, tablets, e-mail system, and mailroom may not be used.
- Campaign materials may not be mailed from the college’s mailroom.
- In addition, district internal mailboxes may not be used to distribute campaign materials expressing viewpoints for or against ballot measures and candidates.
- Campaign materials cannot be directly slotted into these mailboxes by the district, by employees, or by others. However, because the internal mailboxes are also U.S. postal boxes, mail that arrives through the U.S. Postal Service, addressed to specific employees and with postage paid, can be slotted in the mailboxes.
2. Employees may not campaign for or against ballot measures or candidates during working hours.
- Faculty, staff and officials may voluntarily work for or against ballot measures and candidates while off campus and outside assigned/contractual working hours.
- While many employees are working at home, no district equipment – including laptops, hot spots, tablets, printers – can be used for campaign activities (even if the activities occur outside working hours).
- No student-produced work created as part of a class assignment or using district equipment can be used to support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure. This includes video messages, interviews, social media and graphic designs.
3. During non-instructional time, employees may wear campaign buttons, T-shirts, hats, etc., that present viewpoints on particular candidates or ballot measures. None of these items may be purchased with district funds.
However, employees may not wear buttons or campaign clothing that presents viewpoints on particular candidates or ballot measures during instructional time, including in online or remote instructional settings. While on district time, employees may encourage people to vote – but may not encourage people to vote in any particular way, either for or against any ballot measure or candidate.
4. Faculty should be particularly careful not to place campaign posters, signs or materials in their classroom/student service settings (in-person or virtual) or on the class website. Employees may not respond to student questions by telling them how to vote, during class sessions and/or on district time. Course assignments or class projects cannot be used to support or oppose a ballot measure or a candidate.
5. Note that, at any time the board of trustees and Associated Student Government may pass resolutions, and prepare and distribute materials regarding ballot measures that affect the district.
In addition to races at the city, state, and national level, three Board of Trustees seats will be up for election in November:
- Trustee Area 2, which is represented by Edel Alonso
- Trustee Area 3, which is represented by Steve Zimmer
- Trustee Area 4, which is represented by Michele Jenkins
Thank you for your cooperation in adhering to these laws.