On Tuesday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed suit against Wentzville School District’s Board of Education for concealing a transgender student bathroom usage policy in direct violation of Missouri’s Open Meetings Law. After one Wentzville school board member stated that “quite frankly, it’s not the parents’ business” to know about the bathroom policy, two other members of the school board emerged as whistleblowers. Over forty community members followed suit, filing formal complaints with the Attorney General’s Office.
“Parents have the right to know who is in the bathroom with their children. Members of the Wentzville School Board knowingly and purposefully denied parents that right when they shrouded the transgender student bathroom usage policy in secrecy, directly violating the Open Meetings Law,” said Attorney General Bailey. “My office is sending the message that Missourians do not co-parent with the government. We will enforce Missouri’s open meetings statute to protect parental rights.”
In their sworn affidavits, the whistleblowers contend that when the transgender student bathroom usage policy was discussed in a closed meeting, they objected, specifically noting that the discussion should be saved for a public meeting.
Nonetheless, other “Board members continued to discuss the transgender student bathroom use policy. The conversation continued for at least 10-15 minutes and went beyond consulting with our attorney. The conversation included board members expressing their general policy positions on the issue, the role of government in the lives of students, and how the Board could not have this discussion in front of parents or the community.”
The whistleblowers protested throughout the conversation, reiterating that the policy should be discussed and voted on in Open Session after hearing from district parents.
An opposing school board member stated that the transgender student bathroom accommodation process could not be formalized because it would “make us a lightning rod” for litigation. In response to the whistleblowers’ further insistence that the transgender student bathroom usage policy be discussed in Open Session, a different opposing school board member stated, “quite frankly, it’s not the parents’ business”.
Missouri law makes clear that a policy of this kind is indeed parents’ business, which is why Attorney General Bailey has filed suit. His lawsuit notes that the Wentzville School Board’s deliberations over the transgender student bathroom usage policy exceeded the lawful closed public meeting exception.
Attorney General Bailey is seeking injunctive relief under § 610.030 RSMo, as well as monetary penalties for each violation.
The lawsuit can be read here.
The affidavits from the whistleblowers can be read here.