Serious Texas Ethics Allegations against Klein ISD Brought to Light

Official complaint submitted to the TEC, Texas Attorney General and Texas Rangers

This complaint alleges that the respondent: 1) knowingly spent or authorized the spending of public funds for political advertising; and 2) knowingly spent or authorized the spending of public funds for communications describing a measure that the officers or employees knew is false; and 3) is sufficiently substantial and important as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter to vote for or against the measure. Tex. Elec.§255.003. Klein ISD violated Section 255.003 in using public funds for political advertising, in the form of staff time advocating for the passage of the May 7th bond (In an advisory opinion, the TEC concluded that the “spending” of public funds included the use of school district employees’ work time as well as the use of existing school district equipment. Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 45 (1992). 

Complainant alleges that: 4) An officer or employee of the respondent knowingly used or authorized use of an internal mail system for the distribution of political advertising.  Tex. Elec. §255.0031 Complaint alleges respondents board 5) knowingly electioneered for the bond measures by authorizing use of state or local funds and other resources of the district to in support of each of the 4 bond propositions that will appear on the May 7th, 2022, ballot. Tex. Educ. §11.169.

Background

The Klein ISD Board of Trustees voted for a bond package in February of 2022 to appear on the May 7th, 2022, ballot. Soon after, Klein ISD created a webpage, kleinisdbond.com, to provide information to the community about the 4 bond propositions that will appear on the ballot. The information on this site is repeated in all propaganda provided by the school district to community members, including links to the site through several district emails to parents and community members, on large, wooden signs in front of Klein ISD schools, large magazine sized mailers, flyers, videos, Klein employee presentations of bond information to the public, and all other outreach efforts.

This site is the sole information source used by a Klein ISD employee created SPAC, created to support the Klein ISD bonds in this PACs marketing. The PAC is named Vote Yes Klein PAC. This strongly implies that the information being spread to the Klein ISD community by Klein ISD through its spending of public funds is actually an attempt to sway community members to vote for the bond measures. Moreover, Klein ISD is attempting to sway the community to vote for the bond package through omissions, misrepresentations, and mistruths that will be laid out herein.

After Paul Bettencourt’s passage of HB 3 in 2019, a drop in the pass rate for school bond propositions fell to an all-time low of 61 percent last November, “Texas educrats got ‘artful’ advice last month on ways to overcome voters’ resistance to approving big bonds that are paid for with property taxes.” “Next time, let’s just add a tax increase so we’re not trying to explain it to people,” said panelist Mike Martindale, superintendent of College Station ISD. Voters in his district approved more than $78 million in bonds in 2021. 

“We went out and told everyone, ‘It is not a tax rate increase, despite what it says all in caps [on the ballot],” said Tomball ISD Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora. Her district passed two of its 2021 bond propositions totaling $495 million. Another strategy she used in 2021 was looking at a list of every teacher and staff member to see who wasn’t voting. She said it “helped us get over what we needed” to pass the bonds. Salazar-Zamora agreed districts should simply include a small tax rate increase with their bonds and use it to explain the tax-increase ballot language to voters. 

With Texas ISD representatives collaborating to manipulate voters, it’s time to take a stand and send a clear message that voter manipulation is not only illegal when using public resources, but it will not be tolerated in Texas. texasscorecard.com/state/panel-exposes-disconnect-between-school-bondpromoters-and-property-taxpayers/?fbclid=IwAR3odAPn6RuTHlMo61p-t5-AyhpdxT3Ew8H3TL2lkUA4CHyNmIl5nWb8ot8.

The Texas Education Code, Texas Election Code, and the Texas Ethics Commission Rules, guides, and Texas Ethics Advisory Opinions provide the legal constraints that exist regarding a school district’s ability to spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising. The Texas Ethics Commission allows school districts to distribute informational material on election items. However, “the information must not be sufficiently substantial and important, such that it would be reasonably likely to influence a voter to vote a certain way” 

The Texas Election Code defines “political advertising” as: (16) “Political advertising” means a communication supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or office of a political party, a political party, a public officer, or a measure that: (A) in return for consideration, is published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical or is broadcast by radio or television; or (B) appears: (i) in a pamphlet, circular, flier, billboard or other sign, bumper sticker, or similar form of written communication; or (ii) on an Internet website. 

It is my prayer that this matter be investigated expeditiously due to the serious nature of these allegations, adverse impact to Klein community members and swiftly approaching deadline of April 25th, 2022, the date early voting on these measures begins.

Facts

1.) On Klein ISDs own website advertising in support of this bond the district compares local School District Tax Rates. The graph shown here is from kleinisdbond.com. This graph includes 4 districts to compare Klein ISDs 2021 tax rate to local districts. There are 4 ISDs in Harris County that touch Klein ISD, only 2 of those districts are included in the graph. The 2 districts left out of this supposed unbiased graphs are Aldine ISD and Tomball ISD. The 2021 tax rate per $100 valuation in Tomball ISD is $1.25, a staggering 5 cents lower than Klein ISD. The 2021 tax rate per $100 valuation in Aldine ISD is $1.2744, almost 3 cents lower than Klein ISD. 

In fact, only ISDs with tax rates higher than Klein ISD are included in this graph giving the illusion that Klein ISDs tax rate is actually the lowest in the local area. There is no way to argue that this graph is not purposely misleading the Klein ISD voters or that Klein ISD was not aware of the tax rates of districts in the area that touch its district. 

These tactics go beyond mere sharing of information into the realm of political advertisement in that the only facts shared are those that support and are in favor of this bond while leaving out the facts that would allow voters to consider the bond measures objectively. This was the only graph included in the second 4-paged, magazine-sized, bifold, full color advertisements residents received in the mail from Klein ISD. It is clear from this graph that Klein ISD is using public funds to spread a narrative in support of the bond proposition.

2.) kleinisdbond.com includes 3 graphs. One other graph notes historical and proposed tax rate “Passage of all four bond propositions could result in a tax rate increase of approximately $0.03.”” …This will keep our tax rate lower than it was in 2021 and $0.10 lower than it was in 2014. For the average home in Klein ISD ($255K), the impact could be approximately $5.75 per month.” However, in the Jan. 11 presentation by the bond steering committee, officials noted a $1.1 billion bond would have a projected tax rate increase of $0.085 per $100 valuation …on a home valued at $255,000. 

The graph below should show a rate of $1.385 in 2024. The note should read instead, that the rate would be higher in 2021 and only 4.5 cents lower than in 2014. See item 12 for further clarification and actual calculations based on information not included on kleinisdbond.com.

3.) A third persuasive graph found on kleinisdbond.com is titled Klein ISD Historical Tax Rate Management. With information on Klein ISDs Historical Background stating Klein ISD has a strong tradition of making fiscally conservative projections and then, outperforming those projections, by stating that the 2004, 2008 and 2015 bond referendums all came in under the projected maximum tax rate. The correlation between fiscal conservatism and past tax rate increases is extremely disingenuous and specifically manipulates the reader to interpret that these past bonds are already paid for.

The key on the graph reads “Estimated Maximum Tax Rate Increase Needed to Pay for the Voter-Approved Bonds.” A reasonably prudent person would understand that to mean that these past tax rate comparisons on these past bonds were actually paid for. What Klein ISD fails inform voters about is the bond debt that Klein ISD currently holds from these past bonds. The information is not provided anywhere in Klein ISD communications regarding the bond measures. 

Instead, voters are not made aware of the $1,176,197,069 of bond debt currently held by Klein ISD, information required to make an unbiased and fully informed decision on any bond measure. Voters are unaware that these 4 bond measures will effectively double Klein ISDs current debt. 

Moreover, these numbers hint at the idea that even though there exists an average tax rate increase estimate, that homeowner’s tax rate won’t go up to that amount. Therefore, this is information used to sway the community members to vote for the measures.

4.) The kleinisdbond.com website opens with a large graphic stating “Klein ISD 22 Bond, our kids, our schools, our community.” On its face, the phrase “our kids, our school, our community” coveys that voting for the bond benefits our kids, schools, and community. This is not factual information that is unbiased. This graphic is used on all Klein provided literature and signs like the ones seen outside of Klein ISD schools such as the one in the image below.

5.) To date, Klein ISD has spent an untold amount of public funds and used public resources to create a website, graphs, videos, large signage, employee work time to support the bond among many other voter outreach efforts. Community members have received two 4-paged, magazine-sized, bifold, full color advertisements in the mail from Klein ISD to date containing this same misleading and sometimes false information. The significant cost and amount of public funds spent on printing costs for these mailers and access of Klein ISD officials places all Klein community members at a significant disadvantage, especially those that would oppose the bond since.

a) This district has sole authority over all district public funds at its immediate disposal to spend an unlimited amount to forward its own agenda in passing this bond.

b) The community has no input on the amount of money spent by the district to pass this bond.

c) The Vote Yes Klein PAC, whose treasurer, Lauren Dougherty, is an employee of Klein ISD having access to Klein faculty and facilities that Klein ISD residents do not, and is collecting donations, printing, handing out t-shirts and placing signs specifically asking for yes votes on the bond package.

d) Klein ISD and its employees have established relationships with the commercial properties throughout the district by which permission to place signs, asking the community to Vote Yes on the Klein Bond, is quickly and easily accomplished whereas average individual community members must seek out these property owners individually with no prior relationship with such property owners in the district and create new relationships to place opposing information. 

e) A community member concerned about the way the direct is pushing the bonds to HOAs provided an image of an email relaying that a Klein ISD principal would be visiting her HOA to do a presentation about the bond. There is no information about how many other presentations have been and are being conducted by Klein ISD representatives in the community. 

f) A parent reported that when he dropped his son off, the superintendent, Jenny McGown was beginning a “tour” of every campus and PTO to present information on the bond. Average community members do not this type of access.

g) Another parent reported going to a Klein ISD school for arts night to watch her children perform in choir only to be forced to attend a bond presentation in the library before being able to attend the performance. Klein parents should not be subjected to this type of requirement. Average community members who may oppose the bonds do not have the ability (or desire) to hold parents’ hostage in such a manner.

h) Vote Yes Klein PAC is placed in an inherently superior financial position in receiving funds from vendors who will profit from the passage of the bond and to receive money from Klein ISD stakeholders to push the Klein ISD and the Klein Board of Trustees agenda. As of the 30-day filing on April 7th examples of this from the Vote Yes Klein PAC report include a $10,000 donation from Salas Obrien, LLC; $5,000 donation from ICI Construction; $5,000 from Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc (also $5.000 from Mr. Eric Blankenship, Executive at Satterfield & Pontikes Construction) $4,000 from Daniel Brewster, Managing Partner of IBI, a construction company that built schools in Klein as recently as 2020.

 Donations were received from Bobby, Lee and Thomas Trigg Lupher of Lupher LLC that list Klein ISD as one of their land surveyor services clients totaling $3,010; $2,000 from David Rowe, CEO of Durotech Construction; $1,500 from Crystal Adams Director for PRD Land development Service LLC. $1,500 from Alan Clarke CEO of Educators Depot; $2,500 Larry Drown owner of Campus Kids a business that pays no facility rental fees to conduct his childcare business on Klein Campuses; $3,000 Harris Sloan, of VLK Architects; all of these donors are vendors that have received bids from Klein and will financially benefit from the passage of the bond. 

In fact, this PAC received $500 from Absolute All Sports in March of 2022, in April, the PAC then spent over half of that donation ($266.25) on campaign tshirts that read Vote Yes Klein. This PAC also received $2,624.92 from Friends of Klein, and several high-ranking Klein ISD employees and board members including Dayna Hernandez, Associate Superintendent, Communications & Public Relations, Anthony Indelicato, Chief Academic Officer, Doug Massey, Executive Director, Robert Robinson, Chief of Staff, Kelly Schumacher, Associate Superintendent Human Resources Services, and Cathy Arellano, Klein ISD school Board member (up for election this year).

6.) Klein ISD provided information is tailored to sway community members to vote for the bond measures. This is demonstrated by the fact that the Vote Yes Klein PAC relies entirely on the false and misleading information on Klein ISDs own bond information found at Klein ISDs Kleinisdbond.com website. 

This is apparent when you visit the Vote Yes Klein PAC website www.voteyesklein.org/ and click the large “Learn More” button on the center of the page links directly to kleinisdbond.com. Further down the home page the Chair of the PAC repeats the lie that “The tax impact on the average home will only be $5.75 per month.” Below the Letter from the Chair, there is a Request Yard Sign button, the yard signs say, vote FOR all four and list the voteyesklein.org site. 

The site gives no information on the bonds or why to vote for them. Instead, each link simply takes the viewer to kleinisdbond.com. This indicates that those working with Vote Yes Klein PAC do not believe they need any other persuasive information to entice community members to vote for the bonds than what Klein ISD has already provided. There are only 4 points made on this site, “Vote YES! for our kids. 

Better prepare our students for college & high-paying jobs.” “Vote YES! for our teachers. Quality instruction for every child in every school.” “Vote YES! for our community. Guarantee academic, arts & athletic excellence for Klein ISD.” “Vote YES! for our future. A fiscally responsible & affordable investment in our next generation.” 

Next to each of these headings is a “learn more” button that links the viewer to kleinisdbond.com. There is no other information about the bond on the Vote Yes Klein PAC site. This strongly indicates that the information Klein ISD provided in its bond information that should have been unbiased is instead persuasive enough on its own to induce community members to vote for the bond measures. 

Further, the Vote Yes Klein PAC Facebook page continues to delete comments and block  community members from its page if they disagree with the bond. Comments, posts and users are also blocked on NextDoor when sharing any of the information contained within this complaint. Currently videos are also being shared of people stealing vote no signs on the site.

7.) On March 4th, 2022, Klein Leadership Coalition Meet About the 2022 Klein ISD Bond. Over 200 community leaders, parents, family members, teachers, principals, business owners, faith-based leaders, Board members, and district leadership joined together for our March meeting of the Klein Leadership Coalition. At that meeting, Lauren Dougherty spoke and talked about how to raise informed voters and information on voting day for the bond elections. Lauren Dougherty is the Treasurer for Vote Yes Klein PAC. 

“In Klein ISD, we have a culture of voting, and Bond Steering Committee Member Lauren Dougherty shared tips on how to raise informed voters and information on voting day for the May 7 Bond Referendum.” See the article here. news.kleinisd.net/2022/03/04/klein-leadership-coalition-learns-about-the-2022-klein-isd-bond/

Today and during this bond election Klein ISD uses the TASB pushed Culture of Voting. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote an opinion on Culture of Voting in January of 2018 that stated transporting any voters to polling locations would constitute misuse of public funds by a school district. Paxton also stated, “the use of public funds to link to an Internet website promoting a specific candidate or measure is itself a communication supporting or opposing a candidate or measure in violation of this provision.”

8.) Under the Fiscal Management Highlights section of kleinisdbond.com several questionable statements are made. 

  1. a) “Klein ISD has recently saved taxpayers over $70 million through five separate bond refinancing opportunities.” Interestingly, these five separate bond refinancing instances are not provided in these facts. However, even if true, that’s because the rates were lower at the time. This does not mean that any money can be saved through refinancing in the future as Klein ISD is not in control of the market or rates. Instead, this statement is meant to persuade voters.
  2. b) “If passed, this Bond won’t be sold all at once. Bonds are authorized by voters and are sold in increments over time as needed to fund the projects.” This statement gives the impression that even though the bonds are passed the community won’t actually have that bond debt. In actuality, it would be fiscally responsible to sell all of the bonds now due to current low rates. If the district acts in the manner stated here, the district residents will actually pay more for the bond in interest as interest rates are slated to increase.  
  3. c) “State law allows for bonds to be financed for up to 40 years. However, Klein ISD’s repayment schedules are matched up with the useful life of the assets being constructed or purchased. Klein ISD generally limits the maximum term to 30 years.” No example of Klein ISD doing this are provided in this information nor is it a promise. 

Community members would rely on this information to mean that Klein ISD plans on limiting the term of this bond to 30 years. However, Klein ISD currently holds $1.1 billion in bond debt. This fact is never mentioned in any bond information. No community member can make an educated decision without knowing that passing these bonds would double the current Klein ISD bond debt. 

  1. d) “Klein ISD maintains high credit ratings from bond-rating agencies. Klein ISD’s bonds are currently rated AA from S&P Global Ratings and Aa1 from Moody’s.” This is a misleading inclusion since the Aa1 rating based solely on the pledge of an unlimited property tax that is dedicated for debt service and levied upon all taxable property within the district. Nowhere does Klein ISD disclose that they are including this ability to leverage unlimited property tax on all property in the district. 

Since Klein ISD chose to include this statement, Klein ISD should have disclosed this information in its facts and advertising to the community. Instead, the facts included in the information that Klein ISD is willing to share are only facts that would sway a community member to vote for the measures. Moreover, strong S&P Global Ratings mean that there is a strong probability that the school will pay the bond debt. Such a rating is a credit to the taxpayers in the district, not the district. The highest rating is AAA. 

  1. e) “Klein ISD has received the highest rating available, Superior, from the state’s Financial Integrity Rating System and achieved an ‘A’ district accountability rating from the Texas Education Agency.” This accolade is to mislead community member to believe that the money will be spent wisely with integrity. However, the rating is achieved by following reporting rules only not on “how” the money is spent. 

9.) There is a Bond Planning Process section on kleinisdbond.com. This section includes a letter from Ronnie Anderson Klein ISD School Board President describing the Bond Steering Committee. Members of this committee that comprised the committee are not disclosed. 

a) The next statement here is “As part of the district’s ongoing management of finances and facilities, the Klein ISD Board of Trustees commissioned a Bond Steering Committee in November 2021 to develop a long-term capital program. Their goal was to make sure every student in every school has access to modern classrooms, academic programs, educational tools and resources.” 

This last sentence implies that without passing these bonds, there are students that do not have access to any modern classrooms, academic programs, or educational tools and resources. This is persuasive language to induce community members to vote for the measures. 

b) The next statement reads “The committee of almost 100 parents, grandparents, teachers, staff and business and community leaders from across Klein ISD, and directed by a professional facilitator, reviewed financial data, current curriculum and projected student growth and toured existing campuses. After months of extensive study, the committee developed a comprehensive bond recommendation to reflect the wishes of the Klein ISD community and its taxpayers.”

 No study or recommendation from this committee is included in any Klein ISD advertising or on the site. Therefore, these communications are not intended to give facts about the bonds but rather as a persuasive tool to induce community members into voting for the bonds. 

c) This section also contains a “Bond Steering Committee Board Report” video and 6 links to Bond Steering Committee Meeting Recaps. In fact, the title is misleading as the video is not a Bond Steering Committee Board Report. Instead, the video language repeats many times that the committee was meeting to address districts “needs” and to” bring great value to the district” and “bring new families” none of the information provided in that video provides any report, only broad unverifiable statements about how great the committee is. Each meeting Recap is also vague and only includes subject statements without ever disclosing what was done.

10.)  A statement on kleinisdbond.com reads “Klein ISD taxes are frozen for homeowners 65+ who have properly filed with the Harris County Tax Office. Approval of the bond would not result in an increase above the frozen amount.” What is omitted from this fact is that when a 65+ homeowner sells their home and were to purchase a home in the district, the taxes would be frozen, but at the new increased amount.

11.) There is a bond overview video on kleinisdbond.com titled, GET AN INSIDE LOOK 2022 BOND OVERVIEW. The introductory video on Klein ISDs bond information site (kleinisdbond.com) is plagued with factual misrepresentation and manipulation. 

a) The video claims “Klein ISD has a history of conservative management of tax dollars. Resulting in decades of achievement for financial transparency, and in financial reporting excellence.” This is a factually untrue and extremely misleading statement. Financial Transparency is the readiness of financial information about an organization. Financial Reporting is the financial information of an organization released to its stakeholders and the public. 

Neither financial transparency nor financial reporting can result from conservative management of tax dollars as both terms are subjective in nature and merely show the financial information of Klein ISD, not whether the money was used wisely or conservatively. Instead, this verbiage is used to persuade support.

b) To justify the statement that Klein ISD has a history of conservative management of tax dollars, the very next sentence in the video is, “In fact, last year, the Klein ISD Board of Trustees adopted the lowest tax rate in 11 years.” Using that statement to prove conservative management of Klein ISD tax dollars is a patent misrepresentation. The fact is that Klein ISD Board of Trustees adopted the highest tax rate allowable by law without a tax ratification election meaning that the new “lowest tax rate in 11 years” was not an example of conservative management.  

Had the board passed a tax rate that was even .0001 cents below the highest amount allowed by law, an argument could be made for conservative management of tax dollars but even that would be an extreme stretch of the imagination. See highlighted portion of Klein ISDs “Notice of Public Meeting to Discuss Proposed Tax Rate” below which has since been removed from Klein ISDs website. 

c) Klein ISD again misrepresents information needed to make an unbiased decision in the upcoming bond elections with the next sentence in the video which states that since 2004 Klein ISD has grown by nearly 17,000 students making the impression that Klein ISD schools are experiencing substantial growth. Contrary to this statement, Klein ISD own budget report states, “while enrollment dropped by 2.4% last year. 

The student growth rate from the 2017-2018 school year to the 2021-2022 school year only increased by 0.4% (p. 7) and is expected to remain low with an increase of only 1,795 students by the 2029-2030 school year based on Klein ISD growth projections. (Table p. 56). Due to the tax rate set by the board the district is bringing in 4% more in tax revenue this year and enrollment declined 2.4% last year. This is a substantial budgetary increase of 6.5% for Klein ISD without any bond.

d) Next, the video states “Klein ISDs most recent bond in 2015 was completed on time and under budget as a result of efficient fiscal management.” Klein ISD relies on its community members not to understand certain terminology related to bonds. A reasonably prudent person with no bond knowledge or experience would understand that completion of a bond would mean that it has been paid off. 

In fact, nowhere in any of the bond information provided by Klein ISD is there any mention of outstanding debt Klein ISD currently holds even though this is a legally required disclosure elsewhere. Klein ISD should know that providing the amount of outstanding debt it currently holds is factual information that the public would need to know to make an unbiased decision in the bond election.

e) The next line, “In November 2021, a bond steering committee was formed with nearly 100 grandparents, teachers, staff and business and community leaders from across Klein ISD. At the request of the board of trustees, committee members created a comprehensive recommendation to reflect the wishes of the Klein ISD community and its taxpayers. 

There is no information as to who these individuals were, or how these individuals were selected to participate. However, as we have seen financial support from the Klein ISD employees to the Vote Yes Klein PAC one must assume this committee is made up of individuals who would benefit financially from large bonds. This steering committee created a report that is not provided in any Klein ISD publication, yet whatever was included in that report was the basis used to determine the need for the bond election according to the board of trustees.

  1. f) Proposition A would provide $843.8 Million to build a new intermediate school, renovate all existing schools, address growth and capacity challenges, update academic and art spaces and purchase additional buses as our student population grows. However, stagnant growth is reported by Klein ISD in its own reporting and is no included in any bond information created by Klein ISD. 

g.) Proposition B would allocate $51.5 Million for technology devices for classroom instruction including student and staff devices. The video goes on to say this proposition would allow for students and teachers on every campus from elementary to high school to “learn on the technology used for preparation for college and career.” That statement is misleading. 

This leads the voters to believe that students do not have computers or any access to technology that would prepare them for college and career. The images show students typing on laptops. With a year of school closure at Klein ISD, students already have access to computers. 

  1. h) Proposition C would distribute $131.3 million to a new district events center with seating for more than 8,000 that would be used for indoor graduations, academic events, fine arts performances, athletic competitions, robotics tournaments, and career and technology exhibitions. The events center would also provide a place for the community to host large indoor events, concerts, and festivals. This verbiage insinuates at all these uses will either save money for the district or make money for the district. Therefore, information provided by Klein ISD for a voter to form an unbiased decision is wholly absent. 

The district does not provide any information about the true cost of the event center to allow any reasonably prudent voter to make an informed decision on this proposition. Instead, its purpose to persuade the voter to vote for the proposition. A similar events center in a nearby district that uses its space for the same purpose’s losses money each year. www.berrycenter.net/about

  1. i) Next the video dives into Proposition D stating it would provide updated training and competition spaces for student athletes and students showcasing their talents in the arts that are comparable in neighboring districts. However, there is no information provided about any such spaces in any neighboring districts. The verbiage instead, is to persuade the voter to vote for the proposition. This insinuation is that compared to neighboring districts, Klein ISD is not up to par. 

It would provide $72 million for a new district stadium along with renovations to the 55-year-old Klein Memorial Stadium Complex. The statement of the 55-year-old age of the Klein Memorial Stadium shocks the viewer into believing that there must be need for renovations of the stadium. Nowhere in the bond information does Klein ISD mention that the stadium was renovated in August 2010. 

“They saw an exciting season-opener (a 38-34 Klein Oak victory over A&M Consolidated) under the lights at the newly renovated Klein Memorial Stadium.” www.chron.com/neighborhood/champions-klein/sports/article/Opening-night-a-success-for-Klein-Memorial-9439333.php This information is pertinent for a voter to decide whether to vote for the bond. Instead, language used to persuade a reasonably prudent person to vote for the bond by omitting such facts. 

  1. j) Lastly, the video states, “Passage of all bond propositions would result in a tax rate increase of 3 cents over the districts tax rate. This will keep our tax Rate lower than it was at the beginning of 2021 and 10 cents lower than 2014. For the average home in Klein ISD, the impact will be $5.75 per month.”  This is false. The bond steering committee reported the increase would be 8.5 cents. 

“According to the Feb. 15 board meeting agenda, trustees will consider calling a bond election for the proposed bond package totaling $1.1 billion. In the Jan. 11 presentation by the bond steering committee, officials noted a $1.1 billion bond would have a projected tax rate increase of $0.085 per $100 valuation, or an additional $196 in annual property taxes on a home valued at $255,000.” communityimpact.com/houston/spring-klein/education/2022/02/14/klein-isd-trustees-to-consider-calling-bond-election-at-feb-15-board-meeting/

12.) Of the information found in the required notices titled “required voter information” most of the information on those forms is not provided on any Klein ISD website or promoting of the bond package. 

As the title suggests, that information should be included in bond information provided by the school on its “get the facts” site. This includes the current bond debt and the assumptions made in calculating the estimated tax impact.

Based on this legally required information, the 2022 Klein Bond works out to a $655 tax increase for an average home. Klein has published its projections for single-year increase in taxes. Prop A: $432.55 Prop B: $98.07 Prop C: $76.16 and Prop D: $48.43. See the Voter Information Documents for each bond here: www.kleinisd.net/district/communications/required_notices Klein ISD is continuing to deceive voters by telling them it would be $5.75 per month but it’s almost 10 times more than that. Klein ISD relies on an easily deceived voting population.

The 8.5 cents=

Maximum Tax Increase Below


13.) Other, facts that Klein voters may want to consider when making fair decisions on the upcoming bonds.

a) According to Kleins Adopted budget, the total outstanding debt per student not including interest is  $20,288 (p. 57). The district spends over $22k per student per year. 

b) Klein ISD students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during the 2020-2021 school year, considered to be economically disadvantaged was 49.9%. (p. 143).

c) The Harris County Appraisal District reported that 95+% of homes in Harris County rose in value this year with the average increase at 20%. Hcad.org

d) The district has experienced dramatic increases in its tax base, 2021-2022 Klein ISD Adopted Budget (p 83). With the previous tax rate at $1.2957 per $100 property calculation, Klein ISD estimated a $6.8 million increase in tax collected for this year. However, the board just passed the maximum tax rate allowable by law, at $1.3001 per $100 of taxable assessed value. Total: $324,136,696 (p 84).

Conclusion.

 The significant amount factual information related to the bonds withheld on all Klein ISD bond election materials, misleading information and falsehoods along with sharing only favorable information regarding this bond by Klein ISDs informational site is sufficiently substantial as to be reasonably likely to influence a voter “for” the bond measure. None of the information that Klein ISD is spreading is unbiased. 

The community members are at a significant disadvantage in comparison to the resources and accesses ISDs have in influencing elections. ISDs across Texas have been using their influence to persuade voters to vote for tax increases and bonds with similarly manipulative information using public resources and funds. It’s time to hold these districts accountable for their actions and limit the monumental and irresponsible spending of public money to sway elections by corrupt public schools. 

The information provided by the school is one sided. The PAC relies solely on kleinisdbond.com to sway the community to vote yes on the May 7th, 2022, bond package. The clear implication is to vote for the Klein Bond in its entirely. 

At a minimum, Klein ISD Superintendent, Board of Trustees, employees and Vote Yes Klein PAC should be enjoined from use of all misleading campaign information from Kleinisdbond.com, electioneering, bond advertising, presentations, use of school resources to push for the passage of the bond package, and remove all signs supporting the bonds on Klein ISD campuses as well as issue a clear correction, retraction and clarification on all 2022 bond election related information and material as well as any other action found to be in violation of Texas Ethics Commission rules. 

As school districts work together across the state to become more tactful in working to pass bonds through the manipulation of facts to the public, it is time to send a clear message to Texas ISDs that it is illegal to lie to and manipulate voters, use public resources to fund specific election outcomes, electioneer or interfere in Texas elections and that these activities will not be tolerated in Texas

If you know of a school district in Texas that you believe to be intentionally using manipulative tactics like the ISDs referenced above you can file a complaint online with the Texas Ethics Commission, and the Texas Attorney General. To report other crimes such as bribery, abuse of official capacity, and other offenses against public administration, contact the Public Integrity Section of your local district or county attorney’s office, local law enforcement, or the Texas Rangers Public Integrity Unit at rangers@dps.texas.gov. You should also contact your local representatives. 

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Kristin Cobb

Kristin Cobb is a graduate of Liberty University and the University of Houston. She is an award-winning business owner, Christian, wife, and mother in the Klein area. She and her husband serve their community through their volunteer work. Kristin actively engages with her community to expose corruption in local government.