Three school board candidates violated ad content policy

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By Mackenzie Mays 
The Charleston Gazette

Three Kanawha County Board of Education candidates have been asked to pull or revise their campaign ads after violating a policy that forbids footage featuring school property.

Becky Jordon, Calvin McKinney and Vic Sprouse all featured public schools in some form in their campaign ads but have since resolved those issues, according to Kanawha County Schools attorney Jim Withrow.

“We consider that taking videos in a school is not appropriate and publishing videos of students without parental permission is not appropriate,” Withrow said. “We’ve had this request before and have denied it on a number of occasions. Candidates want to go inside a school — even if it’s empty on a weekend — and we have declined it.

“I notified the individuals that I had a report that there was something in some of their ads — a scene or picture — and that it was violating our policy and asked them to take a look at it and to please remove them.”

Sprouse, a former state Senate minority leader, debuted a commercial weeks ago that featured him reading to his son’s classroom at Holz Elementary School, but on Sunday he announced a revised commercial without the school scene on his candidate page on Facebook.

“We are excited to announce our newly revised TV spot! … We have a different shot at the beginning with my boys. I hope you like it!” Sprouse’s Facebook post read.

McKinney, a first-time candidate and former principal in Kanawha County schools, had professional photo shoots inside a school building for campaign purposes.

“We promptly complied with [Withrow’s] request to remove county school board property from pictures in our posts,” McKinney said. “[Withrow] additionally thought that we had used a student as a model, which was incorrect. Nevertheless, we complied with his request immediately.”

Jordon’s TV ad featured a Piedmont Elementary School sign in the background of a scene. Jordon, an incumbent, said because she was outside of the building on the sidewalk that she thought the footage was allowed, but she has already made appropriate changes to the TV spot.

There are seven candidates running for the three open seats on the Kanawha County school board.

Election day is May 13.