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District: 5 or 6 students ‘accidentally’ received political flier

District: 5 or 6 students ‘accidentally’ received political flier

Union president: Material never intended to be sent home
District: 5 or 6 students ‘accidentally’ received political flier
Betsy DeVos with then President-elect Donald Trump in November.
Photographer: Hilary Swift/The New York Times

AntiDevosFlyer.jpg

Five or six Paige Elementary School students received a political flier produced by the district teachers union last month after a teacher passed them out to students thinking they were supposed to go home, district spokeswoman Karen Corona said Wednesday.

A representative of the Schenectady Federation of Teachers had placed copies of the flier — which called for support in opposing education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos — in teacher mailboxes. One teacher then passed them out to a handful of students, thinking they were meant to go home.

“She was handing the flier out thinking it was something that was supposed to go home with students,” Corona said, suggesting the teacher wasn’t even aware of the flier’s content.

On Tuesday, the parent of a 6-year-old student said she was “shocked” to find the political flier in her son’s backpack.

Juliet Benaquisto, the union president, said the material was never intended to be sent home with students but rather to be handed directly to parents.

The flier called for help to “shield” students from DeVos and President Donald Trump, saying the pair “will attempt to destroy public schools” with policies “that will only serve to line the pockets of corporate profiteers at the expense of our students.”

The district has a policy that prohibits staff from using classrooms or school surroundings “as means to promote their personal political views and beliefs,” but district officials said the incident was unintentional and isolated to a small number of students.

Corona said the district looked but didn’t find any other instances of the political flier being sent home with students. The Paige principal told staff that material placed in mailboxes to be sent home with students had to be pre-approved, Corona said.

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