Political Conspiracy at Cincinnati Public Schools???
Lawsuit: CPS pushing Democrats
BY KIMBALL PERRY • KPERRY@ENQUIRER.COM • OCTOBER 18, 2010
Three van loads of Hughes High students were taken last week – during school hours – to vote and given sample ballots only for Democratic candidates and then taken for ice cream, a Monday lawsuit alleges.
The complaint was made by Thomas Brinkman Jr., a Republican candidate for Hamilton County auditor, and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes against Cincinnati Public Schools.
“They plan to bring four more high schools (to vote) this week,” Christopher Finney, COAST attorney, said Monday after filing the suit.
• UPDATE: CPS denies it violated law
It seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent school officials from participating or helping students participate in partisan politics during school hours or with school property or employees involved.
But the school district’s lawyer denies any school connection.
“No CPS personnel engaged in the promotion of candidates or any political party,” CPS attorney Mark Stepaniak noted in a written release.
CPS spokeswoman Janet Walsh said taking students on school time to vote has been done before. “It has to be scrupulously nonpartisan,” Walsh said.
Stepaniak said church vans were volunteered to drive students to vote.
The suit alleges three van loads of Hughes High students arrived at the Downtown Board of Elections offices at 1 p.m. Wednesday, supervised by a school employee. School lets out at 3:15 p.m.
When they got out of the vans, the students, the suit alleges, also were accompanied by adults who appeared to be campaign workers or supporters for U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, the congressman being challenged this fall by Steve Chabot. When the students got out of the vans, the suit alleges they were given sample ballots containing only Democratic candidates.
“We want these kids to vote,” Finney said. “I’m not sure them being bussed during the school day is a good thing, but that’s not the thrust of the suit.
“If they had fair sample ballots or no sample ballots it would be different.”
The suit alleges those actions violated a 2002 agreement between CPS and COAST where the school agreed it wouldn’t allow school property or employees to be used for “advocating the election or defeat of candidates for public office.”
On Monday, Finney asked Common Pleas Court Judge Beth Myers to hear his request for a temporary restraining order that was put on hold after the attorneys for the two sides met in court briefly, talked and then left.
Finney said if the issue isn’t resolved, he’ll go back to court.