Political group uses Wake County students during school hours to sway voters

Apex Friendship High School

APEX, N.C. (WNCN) — Students at a local high school spent their lunch hour calling voters on behalf of a political group, urging them not to vote for U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross.

The calls were made on Friday at Apex Friendship High School.

CBS North Carolina Investigates started looking into the issue after hearing from concerned parents.

The school says the calls were organized by political group Americans for Prosperity who offered the students a free lunch to help make the calls.

The principal of the school says the teacher who runs Apex Friendship’s Key Club organized the event with Americans for Prosperity.

He says he was unaware the calls were being made.

“Apex Friendship High School has approximately 200 students who participate in Key Club. They have dozens of options to accumulate service hours as part of that Key Club participation. The three students who chose to make calls did so during their own lunch periods, which is a time that students can use for a variety of reasons, including participation in club meetings or activities,” said Principal Matt Wight.

Students involved said more than three of them were making calls.

The Key Club requires students to volunteer for a certain number of hours and this counted towards those hours.

Wake County Public Schools says this does not violate any of their policies since it was done during lunch.

Wake County Public Schools Communications Director Lisa Luten issued a statement citing policy 6801:

“Student-initiated, noncurriculum-related student groups shall be permitted to conduct voluntary meetings on school grounds during noninstructional time when other noncurriculum groups are permitted to meet, regardless of the size of the group or the religious, political  , philosophical, or other content of the speech at the meetings, provided that the meetings do not materially and substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of the educational activities of the school. Such meetings shall be open to all students without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

School officials would not provide someone to talk about the issue on camera. Some of the students making the calls aren’t old enough to vote.

Americans for Prosperity would not tell CBS North Carolina what the students were told to say on the phone calls, but admit that they followed a script asking voters to vote against Deborah Ross.

“The kids didn’t have to be involved, no kids are being coerced,” said Americans for Prosperity North Carolina Director Donald Bryson. “We went through all the proper school polices,” he added.

Bryson says Americans for Prosperity is nonpartisan. He says they are issue driven and are against Ross because of her stance on state sales taxes.

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