OTHELLO — Officials of Scootney Springs Elementary School have been accused of violations of RCW 42.17A.555 for authorizing the misuse of public facilities to support the election campaign of school board candidate Lindsy Prows, according to the Public Disclosure Commissions website.
The complaint was registered by Othello resident Sean Bates. He alleges that Prows’ campaign signs were seen in various rooms at Scootney Springs Elementary School, such as the teachers’ break room and teacher classrooms, during the week of the Othello Fair.
“It doesn’t matter who the signs are for,” Bates said. “There’s not supposed to be any electioneering in agency facilities or any government agency.”
Prows said that she didn’t know the signs were not allowed on school property.
“In early September, I unknowingly made a mistake,” Prows said. “I dropped off a few campaign signs at my daughters’ school. I have many friends who work there and they had asked for yard signs. Not giving it a second thought, I dropped them off in the office for my friends, who are teachers, to pick up after school. I was later informed that was against campaign rules. Neither myself nor my friends at Scootney knew any rules were being broken. When I found out, I went to the school to pick the signs up but they had already been taken home. There were teachers all over the district openly supporting different candidates in the race, so I was going along with what I saw others do — get teacher support. I am not a career politician. I wasn’t given a handbook of rules when I signed up to run for this position. I didn’t know I couldn’t drop a sign off in the office. I was not openly campaigning in the school. At the end of the day, the mistake was mine. I know that when you know better, you do better. All I can say is that moving forward, I will do better. This is one mistake I will never make again. I apologize to anyone I offended with my actions. I hope this issue can be resolved and put to rest. We have work to do and I am ready for the work. It is time to move forward.”
Bates said he doesn’t have anything against Prows and that he doesn’t think she intended to do anything shady.
“It’s about fair play and fair access,” Bates said. “I don’t hate the candidate. I want to see fair play. I’m calling what I see. If I see something, I’m a bad guy if I don’t say something. It’s not Lindsy’s fault either. She was invited to bring the signs in. It boils down to sportsmanship. It’s nothing personal.”
Dr. Chris Hurst, superintendent for the Othello School District, said that there is currently nothing definite in the case.
“We are following up with our attorneys on the complaint,” Hurst said. “That process may include but will not be limited to potential interviews to find out more about the issue. We will work with our legal council to resolve any issues, if there are any. It is an allegation. We won’t know more until we get more into the investigation and find out the specifics of the complaint and how to resolve it, if it has to be resolved.”
The Public Disclosure Commission will now investigate the incident and make a determination on the case.