WAYNESBORO -- An e-mail sent by the Virginia Education Association to its members encouraging voter registration of students and support for Democratic nominee Barack Obama was swiftly deleted from Waynesboro teacher e-mail accounts after it was received last week, officials said Friday.
Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Robin Crowder said the e-mail was ordered deleted after a few minutes because "we have no interest in influencing the kids."
Crowder said the school system wants students to take part in the political process, but does not want to sway their votes or opinions.
The e-mail has drawn the ire of the Republican Party of Virginia, a nonunion state teachers association and parents from across the commonwealth.
The e-mail did not go to all Waynesboro teachers, only to those who are members of the Waynesboro Education Association, said Rosemary Wagoner, a Waynesboro Schools technology coach.
People are also reading…
VEA President Kitty Boitnott said the e-mail did not ask teachers to talk to students about a specific candidate, but did encourage them to register students and to wear blue.
Boitnott said the VEA does not encourage teachers to use their classrooms for partisan political purposes.
The text of the e-mail said "there are people out there not yet registered. You teach some of them."
The e-mail makes repeated references to Obama.
Tracey Bailey, state director of Virginia Professional Educators, the state's largest nonunion professional teachers association, said his organization has received numerous phone calls and e-mails from parents.
"Parents are understandably upset when they feel students are being used as political pawns," said Bailey.
Jeff Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said in a statement Wednesday that "teachers are hired to teach, not use their taxpayer-funded positions to coerce and indoctrinate our children to their political agenda."