JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri attorney general sued a statewide education group on Tuesday, saying the organization was subject to open records laws even though it was not a government unit.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, filed a lawsuit against the Missouri School Boards Associationclaiming he is withholding documents related to Schmitt’s legal crusade against mask mandates and program issues.
While the state’s Sunshine Law generally focuses on records maintained by government entities, the lawsuit argues that the MSBA is subject to the Sunshine Law because the organization receives state funding and provides the training required under it. Missouri law.
“Today I filed a lawsuit against the Missouri School Boards Association for withholding public records – records that the public and especially parents of children in Missouri schools have a right to see,” said Schmitt said in a statement.
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Among the documents Schmitt seeks are documents related to MSBA guidelines on mask mandates, as well as a dust on a letter sent to the White House by the National School Boards’ Association that compared parents who act in meetings from the school board to “domestic terrorists.
After the letter was sent in October, the MSBA withdrew from the national organization.
Schmitt, however, believes the organization knew about the letter weeks in advance and initially agreed with the content.
While Schmitt campaigned to have the Senate seat vacated by Republican Roy Blunt, he sued dozens of school districts over pandemic-related mask requirements.
Some school districts have fought back. In January, the St. Charles School District said it was “deeply disappointed” and that “the cynical action is a waste of taxpayers’ money and serves to undermine the authority of local elected officials and therefore , the will of the people.”
Schmitt is running in the GOP primary against former Governor Eric Greitens, St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, Senate Pro Tem Chairman Dave Schatz and U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long.
Democrats include Lucas Kunce of Independence, the race’s top fundraiser; and former State Senator Scott Sifton, D-south St. Louis County. Jewel Kelly, Spencer Toder, Gena Ross, Josh Shipp, Lewis Rolen and Carla Coffee Wright are also running as Democrats.
The lawsuit asks the Boone County Circuit Court to issue a judgment requiring MSBA to comply with the Sunshine Act.
The school board association did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.