State Senator Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, recently sent out a Take Shelter Oklahoma memorandum to superintendents statewide, encouraging the continuation of signatures for a petition to create a $500 million bond that would put storm shelters in every school.
Claremore Superintendent Mike McClaren said Dorman’s memorandum is technically against the rules.
The mailing, which asks school administrators and patrons to coordinate a statewide Tailgate Night at high school football games to collect signatures for the petition, is against state law, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
“I can’t even go to a local football game and encourage the public to vote for a local bond issue,” said McClaren. “I could say ‘we want to remind people to vote for the upcoming bond issue,’ but I can’t tell people how to vote or ask them to sign the petition.”
Julie L. Miller, deputy executive director and general counsel for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, sent out an email to superintendents Monday, advising that school property and personnel cannot be utilized in this manner.
In the email, she wrote “The Oklahoma State School Boards Association would recommend that school districts seek the advice of retained legal counsel prior to letting any person collect signatures on school premises.”
McClaren said the state legislature could put a vote out for a state bond issue for the storm shelters, but they have chose not to because it falls out of political lines.
“The current makeup of both houses do not want to engage in a bond issue on a statewide basis,” he said.
On Oct. 17, Take Shelter Oklahoma volunteers filed a legal challenge to block Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s rewrite to the ballot title.
Pruitt said in a statement that the reason for the rewrite was because the measure failed to explain how the franchise tax revenues would be used to pay for the storm shelters.