LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The Lee’s Summit school board took a page out of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s book when it responded to a cease and desist letter, but Schmitt didn’t waste anytime firing back.
Following a ruling by a Cole County Circuit Court last week, Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, said the ruling determined mask mandates, quarantines and other public health orders are illegal.
He then sent letters to dozens of county health departments and school districts. The letters demanded that districts drop any mask mandates and other COVID-19 related protocols. Schmitt also warned of legal action if they ignored his requests.
The Lee’s Summit School District decided to take a different approach. Instead of changing its COVID-19 protocols, a lawyer who represents the Lee’s Summit school board sent his own letter to the attorney general’s office.
“While the District acknowledges that people have certain rights, it teaches its students the fundamental
notion that rights must be balanced against the obligation to exercise them responsibly, and in a manner
that does not violate the rights of others,” Joe Hatley, attorney with Spencer Fane, wrote to Schmitt. “Your invocation of ‘rights’ untethered to an obligation to exercise them responsibly invites lawlessness.”
The letter also cites precedent to why the lawyer thinks Schmitt’s demands have “no legal authority.”
Hatley wrote the ruling Schmitt is citing does not apply to school districts because schools were not involved in the lawsuit. He also points out that the Missouri Legislature granted local boards of education wide-ranging power to govern their own affairs.
Monday afternoon Schmitt responded to the Lee’s Summit School District’s attorney with another letter.
“You ignore well-settled precedent that the Attorney General enforces the law and protests the public from injury to the general welfare,” Schmitt wrote.
“Aside from the clear legal reasoning, it is my firm belief that health decisions and mask decisions are best left to parents, not school administrators or government bureaucrats,” Schmitt wrote.
The Lee’s Summit School District has said it will defend its protocols if Schmitt decides to follow through with the lawsuit.