(FOX 11) - A Baldwin Park elementary school teacher and candidate for city clerk is accused of offering to pay a former student $50 per vote he can gather on her behalf, but the teacher is strongly denying the allegations.
Jean Ayala is an elementary school teacher at Baldwin Park's Walnut Elementary School, part of Baldwin Park U.S.D.
Ayala is also running to become Baldwin Park's next city clerk this November.
A concerned mother contacted FOX 11 after she says a Ayala tried to bribe her son in a Facebook exchange.
She says her son is one of Ayala's former students, and is now in high school. She provided FOX 11 screenshots of the messages Ayala allegedly sent him.
"I need you to get me people you may know as friend, family, anyone that is 18 and older," Ayala allegedly writes. "I'll pay you $50 per person who votes for me and Mayor Lozano, what you think?"
The student agrees to help.
"Just don't tell anyone I'm paying for this, okay?" Ayala allegedly replies.
Ayala then allegedly instructs the student that he can get the paperwork to register at the post office, and she can give him some if she sees him at the park.
"Just DON'T tell anyone right now, okay?" She allegedly writes.
FOX 11 reached out to Ayala multiple times on Wednesday for comment, and knocked on her door, but we never heard back.
On Thursday, FOX 11 was able to reach Ayala by phone, she denied writing the messages, said she didn't know how they got there, and said she's the victim of political scare tactics.
She provided FOX 11 the following statement:
"As a lifelong resident , a 26 year veteran teacher in the Baldwin Park Unified School District and City Commissioner for The Recreation and Community Service Department I am appalled and disgusted by these FALSE AND ERRONEOUS allegations made about me.
I would never tamper with the election process. I am a well respected professional vested in my community. I have served my community WITH INTEGRITY. I have served countless families and taught thousands of children in this community. These allegations are UNACCEPTABLE. This is a result of adversaries who fear the election process and who Fabricated a profile posing as me to create a controversy.
My community and I deserve more than to be tainted by these FALSE ALLEGATIONS. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. I am demanding that a full and thorough criminal investigation be conducted against any and all individuals involved in this fraudulent hacking. I would not be surprised if there is a complete connection between this fraud amd my political opponents who may be willing to do anything to prevent me from getting elected."
Mayor Manuel Lozano previously endorsed Ayala. A call and email to his office were unreturned as of Thursday night, but he did bring up the allegations during Wednesday night's city council meeting.
"Somehow, of course part of this campaign stuff, someone placed that she was going to pay people that voted for her $50," Lozano said. "Social media can do anything. The media showed up at her house looking for her, of course she was here at the city council. So I just want to say that's the unfortunate part of what transpires in today's world."
"I know her personally and I know how she is as a person," Christina Perez said to FOX 11.
Perez said her kids were taught by Ayala, and she was shocked when FOX 11 showed her the messages Ayala allegedly sent.
"It's shocking, I'm out of words I don't know, it's just so...it's not her. That's not her character, she's not that type of person to do stuff like that," Perez said. "She's an awesome teacher, she's very loved here in the community."
Baldwin Park USD told FOX 11 they have no comment on the allegations because they aren't directly related to Ayala's job duties.
Paying for votes is a federal crime punishable by jail time, and it's also illegal in most states.
Ayala maintains her innocence, and believes she was the target of a political smear.