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It was “certainly not the author’s intent” to encourage teachers to recruit students for Mr. Obama, she also said. The reference to students stems from the union’s long-standing, nonpartisan youth-registration efforts, she said.

She told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that participation in Tuesday’s Obama Blue Day was “miserable” and that she herself had forgotten and worn red — the color representing Republicans.

Dorris Boitnott, a VEA member and author of the e-mail, said that in hindsight she should not have paired the idea of supporting Mr. Obama with that of registering young voters. Mrs. Boitnott, who said she is not related to Kitty Boitnott, also said she had no intention of encouraging teachers to recruit students into a political campaign.

She pointed out that the e-mail discourages teachers from wearing T-shirts or campaign buttons in the classroom that specifically name Mr. Obama.

“Teachers know they are not allowed to partake in partisan activities during school hours, and so if this e-mail somehow looks like it does encourage teachers to recruit students, then I’m very sorry,” she said.

The NEA voted in June to endorse Mr. Obama. The recommendation is based solely on a candidate’s position on education-related issues, Kitty Boitnott said.

“This e-mail was in the spirit of that recommendation, to give resources and advice to those VEA members who are already energized about the Obama campaign,” she said. “We do not advise that any teacher actively recruit a student to any particular political campaign during school hours.”

Mr. Frederick disagreed.

“The Virginia Education Association has systematically brought election politics into the classroom, and this is not the first time they have done so,” he said. “The political views of teachers have no place in the classroom or on school grounds.”

J. Tucker Martin, spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, called the e-mail “highly inappropriate.”

“One-sided, partisan political advocacy should stay out of the classroom,” he said.