Danedri Thompson

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At least two Gardner Edgerton High School coaches are throwing their support behind three candidates for school board.

GEHS football coach Marvin Diener and GEHS wrestling coach Matt Yeamans sent letters endorsing Patty Fabing, Mary Nelson, and Joel Riggs to the parents of football players and wrestlers. The trio was also endorsed by the local teacher’s union.

“There are some very contrasting opinions in regards to support of extracurricular activities among the candidates,” both coaches opined in their letters to parents.

Both also write: “I am confident with your support and vote at this Board election that our Gardner Edgerton Schools will continue to thrive and make a positive impact in our community.”

The emails were not sent from USD 231 accounts, however they appear to have been sent to lists generated through school activities.

There is a state statute that prohibits the use of school equipment or facilities to advocate for or against specific or clearly-identified candidates. However, K.S.A. 25-4169a only applies to first-class districts, or only the Wichita School District.

Carol Williams, director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said there’s s disconnect in the law between large, first-class entities, and smaller entities.

She said had the emails been sent from Wichita School District employees, they would possibly result in hearings before the ethics commission and potentially fines.

“But because it’s a second class city, there’s no law that addresses that,” Williams said.