The Buellton Union School District’s superintendent, Randal Haggard, recently used the school-to-home communication platform Parent Square to share the district’s political position on negotiations for new contracts for teachers and support staff. 

This is the second time Dr. Haggard has used Parent Square for this purpose, sending out information and “statistics” to a captive audience. As an educator and community member, I have great concerns regarding the superintendent’s use in this manner when it should be solely for educational and safety issues pertaining to students. 

While the district certainly has a right to present its position on negotiations, Superintendent Haggard’s use of Parent Square uses a system dedicated to communications with parents for the education and safety of their children; it is not for the political gain and one-sided debate presented by Superintendent Haggard for negotiations or for his advocacy of his 23 percent raise, which he posted on last spring via Parent Square as well. 

Parents did not provide their emails and cell numbers to receive information on anything other than information directly related to their children, and using the system in any other manner is abusing its purpose. 

After reading the most recent post on Parent Square, which I received at work, I sent the School Board questions, all of which have gone unanswered. Instead I received a weakly worded letter from the district’s lawyer indicating I could not send an email asking such questions during the workday. Given teachers received the Parent Square post during school hours, and a subsequent work email, this is perplexing, a gigantic waste of money, and an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate. Regardless, the same questions remain. 

What is the board’s reasoning for allowing Superintendent Haggard to post details about negotiations on Parent Square? Does the School Board pre-approve the posts regarding negotiations? How does the board justify communication of this nature when they shut down communication from the public and the Buellton Education Association at a board meeting last spring? 

While negotiations for the educators of Buellton continue to be of interest to the public, Parent Square is not the proper forum for the district to post its position. Certainly the district could use its website or, like the Buellton Education Association has done, use other social media outlets such as Facebook. 

As an educator, I greatly appreciate parent and community support for causes in which I believe. Naturally a fair contract and fair compensation and benefits for those of us in the field of education are issues I feel have great importance. Interested community members can find information on social media regarding these causes and more. But teachers and support staff are not allowed to engage in any politically motivated action during work hours, and rightly so. 

It was and continues to be inappropriate for Superintendent Haggard to use Parent Square in this manner. The focus of the school-to-parent communication on Parent Square should be on the students, their education, and their safety — period. 

Lisa Restivo

Buellton Union School District teacher