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833 officials ask school board candidate to stop sending campaign emails to district staff

District 833 officials asked an incumbent school board candidate to stop sending campaign e-mails to district staff today, a day before the election, and called the actions inappropriate.

District officials said school board member Marsha Adou sent election-related e-mails, from a private e-mail account, to teachers and staff at Woodbury High School. That is against district policy, said Barb Brown, District 833 communications director.

Adou said she wasn't aware that she couldn't e-mail teachers or staff members.

After being told on Monday, Nov. 2, about her mistake, Adou e-mailed Mary Amidon, assistant to the superintendent, to tell her she would stop sending them.

"I'm very sorry. I just wanted to thank them for their work and what they do," Adou said in an interview. "I e-mailed people that I've worked with in the past. I didn't have personal e-mails for all of them. I thought teachers would wait until the end of the school day to look at e-mails. I also included a list of polling places. I get a lot of phone calls about that at the last minute."

A teacher who reportedly received the e-mail contacted the district this morning to report Adou's practices, district officials confirmed.

The Bulletin obtained a copy of the e-mail Adou sent out. The e-mail included: "I want to continue to make a difference in our schools. Please feel free to email your personal message or any of my information to your friends and encourage people to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd. I ask for your support."

Brown said district officials contacted Adou and informed her that e-mailing district staff at their district e-mail addresses to ask for their support for her campaign was inappropriate.

"You are not supposed to be doing that," Brown said. "We let her know that was not acceptable -- our district has very strict policies on that."

The District 833 policy on campaigning states: "In order to maintain the practice of neutrality, neither district property or district facilities shall be used to promote the candidacy of office seekers. They may be used, however, by district personnel or community groups to hold public forums for all candidates to gather information."

Additionally the policy states that staff and students shall not be contacted on school property to promote a candidacy, the distribution or display of materials in support of a candidate is not allowed on district property, the solicitation of votes, worker or donations is not allowed on district property.

It is not known if staff at other schools have received e-mails as well, Brown said.

Brown said it is unclear whether Adou will receive any ramifications for her actions.

Superintendent Mark Porter declined to comment.

- Judy Spooner contributed to this report.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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