Ethics Commission clears Liberty school district

The Missouri Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against the Liberty school district concerning the distribution of campaign flyers last fall by members of the freshman football team.

The Ethics Commission recently sent the Liberty Schools superintendent and school board members letters stating it was dismissing the complaint as the allegation of misuse of funds was unsubstantiated.

The commission said in the letters that an investigation didn’t reveal an expenditure of public funds. The investigation also showed that neither the superintendent nor board members knew or approved of the athletic team distributing the campaign materials.

Superintendent Mike Brewer said they were pleased that the commission found that they had not violated any law.

“We expected that finding,” Brewer said. “We definitely need to work hard to communicate to all groups what is OK and what isn’t.”

Troy Bell filed the complaint last fall alleging it was wrong to have freshman football team members go door-to-door passing out fliers backing a levy increase that was on the November ballot.

A parents group had encouraged coaches to have players help spread the word about the election.

Even though Brewer didn’t know anything about it, he takes responsibility.

“During elections there is a lot of enthusiasm on both sides — a lot of enthusiasm,” Brewer said. “If anybody is to blame, it is me for not communicating more clearly the guidelines under which our staff and students need to operate.”

Brewer said he doesn’t want this experience to prevent students from participating in future elections. He said that is difficult because students often need adult supervision. He said it needs to be done in a way that is above reproach.

That can be through parent-led committees, Brewer said.

“That way the staff would not be part of that decision or that activity,” Brewer said.