A Missouri school board is being sued by the state’s attorney general for illegally holding a closed meeting in an alleged effort to keep its bathroom policy from public discussion.
The lawsuit filed by AG Andrew Bailey cites two whistle-blowing board members of the Wentzville School District, Renee Henke and Jennifer Olson, who made the allegations in sworn affidavits on Monday.
They claim that board members refused to discuss the transgender bathroom policy in an open meeting, instead opting to push policies behind closed doors, to the frustration of many district parents.
“Parents have a right to know who is in the bathroom with their kids,” Bailey wrote on X, sharing screenshots of the lawsuit. “We filed a 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.”
Olson and Henke both testified to the board’s anti-parent behavior.
“In response to [board members] Henke, Lewis and my objections and insistence that the transgender student bathroom usage policy should be discussed in Open Session, Member Julie Scott stated, ‘quite frankly, it’s not the parents’ damn business,’” Olson said of the July 2023 meeting, according to the affidavit.
At the same meeting, according to the document, Wentzville Superintendent Danielle Tormala told the board she didn’t want the transgender bathroom policy to be formalized because it would “make us a lightning rod” for litigation.
Some districts in the state are facing legal battles over the issues, such as Platte County Schools, which is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for not allowing a biological male student to use the girl’s bathroom.
However, Olson continued to object to the reasoning for keeping the bathroom policy under wraps, since “fear of litigation was not a valid reason to discuss public business in a Closed Session meeting.”
Henke added in her testimony that members weren’t even given enough time to review the documents regarding “Transgender Student Accommodation Requests.”
She alleges that after being tabled once, it was never brought to the board for review again.
“To my understanding it has also been shared with building staff with few changes from the original document,” Henke testified.
Wentzville parents and students also informed Olson that the transgender policy had gone into effect at their schools.
While Bailey’s suit focuses on the violation of the Open Meetings Law, the AG expressed concerns about the infringement of parental rights, too.
“Members of the Wentzville School Board knowingly and purposefully denied parents [their] right[s] when they shrouded the transgender student bathroom usage policy in secrecy, directly violating the Open Meetings Law,” said the AG’s press release. “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.”