Arlington County Board member Walter L. Frankland yesterday said he will ask the county school board to consider adopting a policy that would prohibit county teachers from working in local and some state political campaigns.
The county currently has such a policy for its other employes, which bars them from working for candidates for the County Board or other locally elected offices, such as sheriff or county treasurer, or for state delegates and senators. The policy is modeled on the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits federal workers from participating in party politics. The county policy, which is being challenged in court, is intended to insulate county employes from coersion by their employers who are elected to office.
"It's something I think the school board should look at and I'm going to suggest it to the school board," said Frankland, a Republican-backed independent who is seeking reelection this year. "The teachers are now completely free to do what they want and they're blatant about their political activities, including taking time off and manning the polls."
In recent weeks, Frankland has been critical of the Arlington Education Association and its political action committee, calling them a "potent political force" for Democratic candidates in local, state and some national races.
Frankland denied his suggestion had any connection with his reelection plans. "Whether it's for my campaign or not is not the issue," he said. "It seems unfair to me that the County Board worked so hard on the county employes policy when the most potent political activists among public employes employed by Arlington taxpayers rests in the schools."
Democratic Board member John G. Milliken said since teachers are employed by the school board, whose members are appointed by the county board and not elected, they should be free to work in campaigns.
School board vice chairman Simone J. Pace said yesterday that he could not speculate on what the school board might do about Frankland's suggestion.
Susan Rafferty, president of the teachers' association, acknowledged that teachers have worked hard for local Democrats in recent years, because they tend to support policies and programs advocated by teachers. While the association endorses County Board candidates, she said, neither it nor its PAC contributes to candidates.