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TTSD pulls booster ad, issues apology during football game

District says ads promoting a Tigard community center went against school policy.

The Tigard-Tualatin School District has refunded a political campaign $1,000 after it ran advertisements for a Tigard ballot measure during local football games.

Measure 34-241, a $34.5 million bond measure on the ballot this November in Tigard, aims to build a community center somewhere within the city.

The Friends of the Downtown Tigard YMCA" — the measure's vote "yes" campaign — purchased $1,000 worth of advertising with the Tigard High School Booster Club last month. The campaign hung a banner on the football field, ran an ad in the game's program and over the PA system.

Supporters of the measure have expressed hopes that community center will be a YMCA built in downtown Tigard, though the city has yet to study where the center will go or who will operate it.

Susan Stark Haydon, a spokeswoman with the Tigard-Tualatin School District, said that members of booster club erred when they allowed the campaign to purchase the ads, which she said went against district policy.

Stark Haydon said that the district broke no laws by accepting the ads, but said that the district has a policy of staying out of political campaigns in order to keep the district fair and impartial.

“We just don’t want to get in the business of advertising candidates or measures,” she told The Times on Tuesday.

Stark Haydon said that the booster club members were unaware of the policy. The club is made up of parents and community members and raises money for the school's athletic program.

“When you have volunteers who are trying to raise money for athletics and there are changes in volunteers, people don’t always know that’s the policy,” she said.

Stark Haydon said that the district refunded the campaign it's $1,000, removed the banners and printed advertisements and read a statement over the PA system at Friday’s game against West Linn.

"The Tigard-Tualatin School District does not accept advertising for political campaigns or ballot measures," the statement read. "Over the past few weeks, a banner endorsing ballot measure 34-241 was erected at the stadium. At the last football game, this ballot measure was advertised in the program and announced over the PA system. These actions should not have occurred and we regret this error."