Denton directors sued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for illegal campaigning

Two Denton ISD employees were charged with illegal election advertising on Tuesday, nearly two months after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against the school district.

Jesus Lujan, principal of Borman Elementary, and Lindsay Lujan, director of special programs for the school district, are both charged with unlawfully using the school district’s internal mail system for political advertising, according to the indictment. The two are married, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.

The indictment alleges that the couple knowingly used or authorized the use of “an internal mail system to distribute political advertisements.” According to the attorney general’s lawsuit, the couple’s emails encouraged school employees to vote for candidates who favor increased funding for public education rather than a voucher program that helps Texas parents send their children to private schools.

“They are so desperate to deny parents the right to choose their school and force them to attend state-mandated schools that they have blatantly violated Texas criminal law,” Governor Greg Abbottwho has lobbied unsuccessfully for state lawmakers to approve some kind of voucher program, wrote in a post on X on Friday. “They need to be held accountable.”

The charges come after Paxton sued the Denton School District on Feb. 22, alleging that the two principals sent emails to employees urging them to vote for Republican candidates who support public education in the March 5 primary election. At the time the lawsuit was filed, Lindsay Lujan was the principal at Alexander Elementary.

The lawsuit also named Superintendent Jamie Wilson and members of the school board as defendants.

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The emails Jesus and Lindsay Lujan sent included links to websites with information about the candidates, according to the lawsuit. Lindsay sent her email on Feb. 5, urging staff to register to vote and that teachers were being held “hostage as millions of dollars are being withheld for vouchers.” The lawsuit includes receipts of the emails administrators sent to staff.

“The Texas Legislature has not increased the per pupil allotment in public schools since 2019 despite rising inflation! No school in Texas, including Denton ISD, will be able to grant ANY salary increases next year unless the legislation changes,” Lindsay’s email states, according to the lawsuit.

Paxton said in a press release that “it is completely inappropriate for publicly funded entities such as school districts to campaign as Denton ISD has done. State law prohibits government officials – including school district personnel – from using their positions of power or taxpayer dollars to influence the outcome of an election.”

The school principals also urged employees to register for election dates and told them they would be given time off to do so, the lawsuit says.

“No matter what party you belong to, Republican or Democrat, in future elections, remember to think from a ‘purple’ mindset and vote for the candidate who will support public education and its funding in the future, regardless of party affiliation,” Lindsay wrote in her email.

In a statement emailed to the Star-Telegram in February, the school district said officials were communicating with the attorney general’s office.

“Denton ISD has spoken with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and we agree that election laws should be followed,” the district wrote. “We expect these guidelines to be followed.”

The school board sets the guidelines for the election campaign and council members and school administration are trained annually on those guidelines, the district said.

Denison, Castleberry, Huffman and Aledo ISDs were also sued by Paxton for alleged illegal election advertising.