A southern California high school teacher who served as student body faculty adviser stepped down from that role after allegedly rigging student elections — and apparently against conservative candidates.
Principal Mick Wager emailed parents of students at Vista Murrieta High School on June 16 saying the company that handled the elections confirmed fraudulent votes altered the outcomes of the races for 2019 class president, 2019 secretary and 2018 class president, the Press-Enterprise said.
“An audit conducted by the electronic voting service has verified that no other election outcomes were affected by the voting irregularities,” Wager wrote, the paper said. “This is a very unfortunate and disappointing situation, and I regret the impact it has had on the students involved and the student body as a whole.”
Murrieta Valley Unified School District spokeswoman Karen Parris told KCBS-TV that Denise Marie Peterson resigned as associated student body adviser but remains employed as a teacher.
On Monday, the school’s website listed Denise Peterson as a teacher who had an ASB class on her schedule, the Press-Enterprise reported, adding that the page was updated Tuesday to remove the ASB class as well as her entire schedule. Peterson did not immediately respond to an email to her school account, the paper said.
“Obviously, it was a serious lapse in judgment, and the school is committed to righting the wrong,” Parris told the Press-Enterprise.
Parris told the paper that students previously announced as winners will be allowed to participate in student government in other roles.
Wade Sine, a Vista Murrieta parent, told the paper Monday he helped uncover voting irregularities after obtaining data indicating times votes were cast as well as the IP address used to log into the voting company’s website. Sine told the Press-Enterprise he attended meetings with Peterson during the probe and identified Peterson as the adviser.
More from the paper:
Many of the votes, he said, were made at 10:30 p.m. or later, in 40-second increments, by someone who appeared to be going down a list alphabetically and voting for certain candidates.
He grew suspicious after he started hearing from people about irregularities after the results were posted, which seemed to undercount support for a member of a group of conservative male students who had run in previous school elections, he said.
Sine told the Press-Enterprise the school should have a do-over of this year’s election in case other fraudulent votes weren’t caught during the audit.
“As an adult, and as someone that the kids probably would look up to … doing something like that is really low, and I definitely think they should have some type of consequence,” one student told KCBS.
Online commenters were of the same mind.
“Wow, liberals defrauding an election … who would have guessed?” one user posted in the Press-Enterprise comments.
“Apparently her fellow liberal lemmings weren’t the top vote getters,” another user noted.
“If it weren’t for the actions of an alert parent, it would never have been discovered,” a third user wrote. “The school’s actions are more of a cover-up than a corrective action.”