Missouri sues large school district for breaking open record laws on critical race theory materials

Attorney General Eric Schmitt says "parents have every right to know exactly what is being taught to their children, especially when public school systems are implementing components of critical race theory."
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EricSchmitt
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
Missouri Attorney General's Office

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday sued one of the state's largest school districts, alleging it has violated open records laws in an effort to thwart public disclosure of critical race theory training materials for teachers and curriculum for students.

Schmitt's lawsuit charges the Springfield Public Schools with 13 counts of violating the state Sunshine Law that include charging exorbitant fees for records. The move comes a day after Just the News reported that the school district's training materials suggested teachers could be engaged in white supremacist behavior just by insisting on English language in classes, calling police on a black suspect or using the term "All lives matter."

Schmitt's announcement cited some of the training materials cited in the Just the News article, including an "oppression matrix." The attorney general himself has filed open records requests seeking such records from the school district.

"Parents have every right to know exactly what is being taught to their children, especially when public school systems are implementing components of critical race theory and so-called 'antiracism' teachings in teacher trainings and applying social justice scorecards to math and other core curriculum," Schmitt said in his announcement.

"Springfield Public Schools has skirted our efforts to demand answers and transparency for parents who send their kids to Springfield Public Schools by demanding exorbitant fees for public records," he added. "Now, we're taking Springfield Public Schools to court for those public records."
 
The lawsuit alleges that Springfield Public Schools has publicly acknowledged that they are instructing teachers and staff on critical race theory. "According to Springfield Public Schools, one of the Facing Racism Institute's training objectives is to 'introduce the components of critical race theory from educational research with applications to the district,'" the lawsuit noted.

After the Springfield Public Schools School Board limited public comments and Springfield Public Schools announced that they would not release training materials to the public, Schmitt's office filed a Sunshine Law request to determine how frequently critical race theory and antiracism materials and teachings were shared with students.
 
The school system responded by providing a fee estimate that demanded an initial deposit of $37,000. "Springfield Public Schools violated § 610.026.2 [the Sunshine Law] by demanding a deposit for items or services other than copies as a precondition to making public records available to the Attorney General's Office," the suit alleges.

The suit seeks a judgment declaring the Springfield Public Schools violated the Sunshine Law, ordering officials to release all responsive records to Schmitt's office and imposing $1,000 in civil penalties for any violations of the law.

You can read the full lawsuit here: