Viewing Anchorage, Alaska from across the water.

Andrei Taranchenko

Elementary School Administrators Apologize After Urging Parents to Oppose Anchorage Dispensary  

Officials at an Anchorage, Alaska elementary school apologized after sending a ‘partisan’ automated phone message to parents urging them to voice opposition to recreational cannabis dispensaries at a city Assembly meeting, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

The message, sent by Campbell Elementary School administrators, alleges that the Assembly “quietly passed” approval for a dispensary two weeks prior “without public input or outcry,” and that the Assembly would decide on another shop at the meeting.

“It hits too close to home, it hits too close to our school,” the female voice says. “Please, we are asking for as many families as possible to make an appearance at [the meeting] tonight to show who this will be having an impact on — our children.”

Heidi Embly, spokesperson for the Anchorage School District, said the calls were sent at the behest of Principal Michelle Johansen, who is taking responsibility for the content of the message. She declined to provide the identity of the staff member reading the message, which was sent to 464 phone numbers.

“This was not something that should have happened or will happen again in the future,” Embley said in the report. “It should have been a strictly informational message to notify parents of something that may have been of interest to them.”

The system is usually reserved for informational and emergency phone calls or texts.

In a subsequent message, Johansen apologized for the tone of the original call.

“Unfortunately, words were used which implies partisanship,” she said. “This is not the intent or policy of the district or our school.”

Embly said that principals at all of the district’s schools were reminded of “appropriate communication as district employees, particularly regarding political activity” and that the school supervisor is investigating the incident.        

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