Gering, Neb., school superintendent Don Hague was fined $250 earlier this year for using his work computer to campaign for a State Board of Education candidate.
The state’s Accountability and Disclosure Commission voted 5-0 to levy the fine Aug. 15 against Hague.
An investigation by the commission found that Hague violated state law when he sent an eMail message to school employees on May 14, 2002, advocating the candidacy of Kandy Imes for the state board. State law prohibits the use of public resources to campaign for or against a candidate.
Imes, who was chairwoman of the Gering School Board at the time of the race, was running against incumbent Kathy Wilmot of Beaver City. Imes went on to win the November election by just 115 votes.
In addition to the fine, under the settlement reached between Hague and the commission, Hague agreed not to use or allow anyone else to use school computers for campaign-related eMails or other communications.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Hague told the Associated Press Aug. 18. “It’s an unfortunate thing that wasn’t intended to push people to vote one way or the other. It was to encourage people to vote.”
In June, the commission decided against pursuing allegations that a teacher at the district’s Grant Elementary School, Sherry Erlewine, used her work computer to post a campaign-related message on the school’s electronic bulletin board. That message promoted Imes over Wilmot.
A case is still pending before the commission on Grant High School teacher Diana Tate. She had asked Erlewine to post the message because Tate did not have access to the elementary-middle school discussion group.
A hearing on Tate’s case was held Aug. 6 and was expected to be discussed at the commission’s Sept. 26 meeting.
Wilmot filed the complaints against Hague and the two teachers.