Obama campaign fails NYC rule

No filming politics in schools
May 14, 2008 8:30:04 PM PDT
Barack Obama's presidential campaign violated city Department of Education regulations when it made a video at a Bronx high school classroom starring students, an official said. The campaign violated the chancellor's regulations against filming in school buildings for political or promotional purposes, said education department spokeswoman Margie Feinberg. The video was forwarded as an e-mail attachment to potential donors.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the campaign did not know about the regulations.

"The intention was to share a story that inspired Sen. Obama and one we hoped would inspire others," Psaki said. "We regret any difficulty this positive project caused the school."

The 13-minute video was shot on March 18 at the Bronx High School for Performance and Stagecraft.

Jackson Shafer, a 25-year-old teacher at the school, said he contacted the Obama campaign after his students decided to write their own version of the Illinois senator's "Yes we can" speech.

He said he was surprised when the Obama campaign responded with a request to film the students.

"This was not about helping them fill their coffers," he said, adding that he did not know that the video would be used alongside a pitch for donations.

The school's principal, Mark Sweeting, said that he knew that the video shoot violated the chancellor's regulations. But he defended it as an educational benefit to his students.

"The bottom line is I have a senior Hispanic student that is now interested in politics. I have a male African-American student... that is now in tune with what a superdelegate is," he said. "That to me is outstanding."

The Department of Education is considering disciplinary action against the school's administration, Feinberg said.