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Missouri sues school board over secret meetings on bathroom policy

Attorney General Andrew Bailey is suing the Wentzville School Board in eastern Missouri for allegedly hiding its transgender bathroom policy from parents.

“Parents have the right to know who is in the bathroom with their children,” Bailey said. “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. My office is sending the message that Missourians do not coparent with the government. We will enforce Missouri’s open meetings statute to protect parental rights.”

In July, state senator Bob Onder, during public comments at the board meeting, reviewed the Sunshine Law and told the board that closing a meeting to discuss controversial topics would be illegal.

According to the lawsuit, reports National Review, the board conducted a closed meeting in June in which it discussed the district’s transgender student bathroom policy because a student requested a gender-based accommodation. Some members objected to the closed-door discussion, because, they said, the district’s bathroom policy is public business.

State law allows school boards to conduct closed discussions “only to the extent necessary for the specific reason announced to justify the closed public meeting” and specifies that they may “not discuss any business in a closed session which does not directly relate to the specific reason.”

The board held another closed meeting in July in which it again discussed the transgender bathroom policy. The same members objected but were shut down by other members. During that meeting, one official said of the policy that, “quite frankly, it’s not the parents’ business” after “objections were made about discussing the policy in open session.”

The superintendent also urged the board not to publicize the transgender bathroom accommodation as official district policy, because it “would make us a lightning rod for litigation.”

“The board members discussed among themselves their specific policy positions and deliberated the details of the proposed policy/process while in closed session, which went beyond the scope of information authorized to be closed,” the lawsuit said. “At least portions of the discussion were not for the purpose of seeking legal advice, legal actions, attorney work product or individually identifiable student or personnel information.”

Wentzville’s board has yet not discussed the transgender accommodation process in open session.

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