Livingston Parish public school officials looked into a parent’s complaint of classroom political activity by a substitute teacher — the mother of sheriff’s candidate Jason Ard — but said they found no serious occurrences of politicking.
The system began an investigation Monday after receiving the complaint, Bruce Chaffin, the system’s supervisor of instruction, said Thursday.
“Within 15 minutes, I was on the phone with the principal,” Chaffin said. “It’s not something we took lightly.”
Assistant Superintendent John Watson went to the school and met with Principal Glenda Newman Monday, Chaffin said.
The parent, Theresa Clifton, said Jenny Ard, a substitute teacher at the school, requested on Sept. 23 that the students on ask their parents to vote for Jason Ard, held an Ard campaign sign and handed out campaign stickers to students.
Clifton learned of the matter that night when her daughter asked her for whom she was voting, she said.
Monday morning, Clifton reported the classroom incident to Chaffin, she said.
Administrators found no serious allegations or occurrences of campaigning at the school, Chaffin said.
Clifton also contacted District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, who declined to take any action, according to an email Perrilloux sent to Clifton.
In her email to Perrilloux, Clifton asserted that Jenny Ard and the school system were in violation of state laws prohibiting the use of public funds to campaign, she said.
Perrilloux could not find any incidence of misused funds, his email to Clifton said.
Perrilloux advised Clifton to contact the School Board about the issue, the email says.
Assistant Superintendent John Watson warned principals during two meetings earlier this year that campaigning at school is improper, Chaffin said.
Newman would be able to hire Jenny Ard to substitute teach again, Chaffin added.
“This campaign is supposed to be about Jason Ard and my opponents,” candidate Ard said. “I am glad it was looked into, my hat’s off to the School Board to get in there and look at something like this.”
Ard said he had spoken only briefly with his mother about the allegations.
“She’s more upset that this may cause some negative light on her son’s campaign,” Jason Ard said.
Jason Ard, a Republican, is one of four candidates running for the office of Livingston Parish sheriff in the Oct. 22 primary election. The other three are Cookie Billingsley and Mickey McMorris, both Republicans, and Pete Aranyosi, no party listed.