KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing Kansas City-area school districts over mask mandates in their buildings.
Schmitt, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, is suing the following KC school districts:
- Kansas City Public Schools
- Park Hill School District
- North Kansas City School District
- Independence School District
- Hickman Mills School District
- Raytown Quality Schools
- Lee’s Summit R-VII School District
- Liberty Public Schools
- Holden School District
- Center School District
- Warrensburg School District
Schmitt has warned of litigation against school districts within the state that mandate the use of face coverings. Earlier this week, Schmitt doubled-down on his position arguing the mandates are illegal.
Schmitt isn’t just suing Kansas City area districts, however. His office also filed suits against multiple districts across the state, including the Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt school districts in St. Charles County, Columbia Public Schools, and others.
On Friday, he tweeted that he’s “filing dozens of lawsuits against school districts that continue to force the masking of school kids.” He has filed at least 36 across the state so far Friday.
In the lawsuits, Schmitt says that school districts do not have the authority to impose public health orders for students. He adds that face masks create a barrier to education that outweighs benefits.
Schmitt argues the General Assembly did not grant school districts authority to “condition in-person attendance on compliance with an arbitrary mask mandate.”
He adds that the decision to mask students is up to the parents, not the state or the district.
School districts respond
FOX4 reached out to local school districts facing lawsuits from Schmitt’s office.
“We just want to have school for kids,” Independence Schools Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl told FOX4.
Herl said his school district had 126 teachers out Friday and barely had enough bus drivers available to get kids to school.
“I don’t want this to be a debate about whether masks work or not or how serious the Omicron variant is,” he continued. “For me this is just about getting kids to school, providing an education because not only are we an education entity, but we also provide many other opportunity for kids. Parents rely on us, so they can get to work.”
Liberty Public Schools issued the following statement to staff and families:
You may have seen earlier today that the Missouri Attorney General’s office posted on social media that he has filed lawsuits against several school districts in Missouri, including LPS, stating the need to eliminate several COVID-19 mitigation efforts currently in schools.
As stated previously, Liberty Public Schools will continue with our current Return to Learn COVID-19 protocols in place until further notice. We will be working closely with our legal counsel to navigate the matter.
In addition, we are closely monitoring COVID-19 positive cases, student attendance rates, and staffing levels, and we will be committed to sharing any important information with you in a timely manner, if necessary.
Our primary focus at this time is doing all we can to provide in-person learning, in healthy environments, for our students. We continue to be extremely grateful to our entire LPS staff for going above and beyond to meet the needs of our students and families during this challenging time.
North Kansas City School District issued the following statement to FOX4:
North Kansas City Schools’ top priority is the health and safety of our staff and students. We also value in-person instruction as the best learning environment for the vast majority of students we serve.
We are aware of actions taken by the Missouri Attorney General’s office today and will respond as necessary once the district has had the opportunity to fully consider the allegations. In accordance with Board of Education policy, we have and will continue to follow the current COVID-19 protocols with direction from local health agencies.
Lee’s Summit School District released the following statement:
Legal counsel for the Board of Education has previously expressed the district’s intention to defend its duty under Missouri law to protect the health and safety of its students and staff. We look forward to vindicating our legal position in court.