Davidson’s appeal dismissed in school vote electioneering   

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Joel Davidson electioneering outside of Granville Junior/ Senior High School for the 2021 Granville Board of Education and Budget vote.

An ongoing appeal filing stemming from an incident that occurred during the Granville school district elections in May 2021 has been laid to rest by New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa.

Rosa denied the appeal made by Joel Davidson, husband of science teacher Lisa Davidson, then-president of the Granville Teachers Union.

The decision was announced by Granville school superintendent Tom McGurl at the Board of Education meeting on June 13.

“Spoiler alert, the appeal was denied by the commissioner,” said McGurl, whom Davidson claimed had violated his First Amendment rights.

Tom McGurl. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Zinn.

”Just to give you a little bit of information on that, Mr. Davidson brought to the commissioner’s attention that markers were not placed at the 100-foot boundary of the voting place, that he was moved off campus and prohibited from electioneering on campus and that I, on behalf of the district, violated his First Amendment rights,” McGurl said.

“Mr. Davidson sought, for restitution for that, a public statement from the commissioner that I violated his First Amendment, that the commissioner issue a directive that I have to cease and desist with interfering in electioneering more than 100-feet from a polling place and that I make sure that there are 100-foot markers placed for our elections.”

McGurl said that Rosa justified her decision to deny the appeal request by stating McGurl was appropriate in “enforcing his Covid-19 policies” and “prohibiting electioneering in certain locations.”

Police involvement was required on the day of the budget and school board vote when Davidson and board candidates Emily Jenkins and Nicole Austin were electioneering, presenting fliers of Granville Teachers Association-supported candidates while potential voters pulled into the rear parking lot of the high school by the football field.

Davidson’s wife, who was the union leader at the time, was suspended without pay from her teaching role for two weeks from March 14 to March 28, partially derived from her involvement in electioneering at Mary J. Tanner School and Granville Elementary School while school was in session in the same board and budget vote.

Rosa added that McGurl, on behalf of the district, was aware of the legal obligations that were in effect for the 2021 school year when referring to the 100-foot markers.

“Finally, in light of the aforementioned findings, the commissioner found it unnecessary to address the party’s remaining contentions, thus dismissing the appeal,” McGurl said.

NYVTmedia was unable to reach the Davidsons for comment by press time.

“So that whole thing is over, dismissed,” McGurl said. “I would just like to say for public benefit, we did this year for the policy committee, and you as a full board, updated Policy 1210 which does deal with electioneering on campus and during budget votes and board member votes, electioneering is not allowed on our property anymore.”

Davidson is a former Vermont state trooper.