School board association sued for policies that 'unconstitutionally silence parents'

The lawsuit argues that the Missouri School Boards Association is a "quasi-governmental entity."

Updated: April 19, 2022 - 10:24am

The Missouri School Boards Association is being sued for not producing its communications about school boards meeting public comment policies with the National School Boards Association, the National Education Association and local school boards.

The Southeastern Legal Foundation on Tuesday filed a lawsuit accusing the state school board group of violating Missouri's Sunshine law, which requires meetings and records to be made public. 

"When we see local school boards across various states all changing their policies in an effort to limit public comment and unconstitutionally silence parents, we have an obligation to the public to find out who is driving these changes," SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann said in a press release.

"That is why SLF submitted its original Sunshine Law request to the MSBA," she added.

The lawsuit argues that because the Missouri School Boards Association's revenue is "virtually all" public funds, it is a "quasi-governmental entity." Thus, the association is violating the state Sunshine Law. 

SLF is calling for the organization to provide the requested records and pay the legal foundation's attorneys fees, among other things.

"When the government outsources its public functions to private corporations, the law demands an equal amount of public transparency," SLF Director of Litigation Braden Boucek said. "No function is more classically 'public' than public education, and since 1988 it has been the opinion of the Missouri Attorney General that MSBA is open to Sunshine Law requests."

Hermann stressed the importance of parents' rights.

"The choice for America is quite simple," she said. "You either stand with the parents who simply want their kids to receive a color-blind education, or you stand with those seeking to silence them at all costs. The public has a right to know whether MSBA is attempting to direct and control local school board meetings when parents express their outrage over what is happening in their children's schools."

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