Missouri school board member resigns on trans issues, as district test scores plummet

A Missouri school board member has resigned to move out of state, saying she longer feels “safe” as the state Legislature was considering a ban on irreversible transgender medical treatment for…

A Missouri school board member has resigned to move out of state, saying she longer feels “safe” as the state Legislature was considering a ban on irreversible transgender medical treatment for minors.

“I’m further saddened by the possibility of a future Missouri where a generation of young people are not given the opportunity to get to know and love their diverse neighbors,” Katherine Sasser, who was elected to the Colombia School Board two years ago, said on Monday, according to local KOMU TV News.

Sasser then got hyper-partisan, calling laws that prohibit inappropriate sexual materials in schools an attempt to represent just “one point of view,” and characterized it as an attack on LGBT individuals.

Sasser is the mother of a transgender child.

But the Treasurer of Missouri was having none of it, chiding Sasser for the decline in the district’s test scores as a better, more honorable reason to resign.

“It’s unfortunate she feels she has to move out of state,” said Treasurer Vivek Malek, a Republican, via Twitter. “But I do find it concerning that she’s not leaving bc of her district’s failing test scores, which occurred while she served on the school board. Rather, it’s a #moleg bill that merely prohibits children from undergoing irreversible sex change operations that’s causing her to move.” 

The district scored worse than average in a recent academic assessment.

Overall, the Columbia School District scored worse than 81% of the 458 other K-12 districts in Missouri, said the Columbia Missourian.

The district’s score of 70% was just enough to meet the full accreditation mark.

Yet, the school district said the scores were reason to celebrate.

“We plan to acknowledge both our celebrations and areas where there are opportunities for improvement,” Columbia district spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said in an email to the Missourian.

The resignation also comes several months after a controversy in which the school district allowed middle school students to attend a drag show performance in honor of civil rights, without securing their parents’ permission first. 

“I am appalled with Columbia Public Schools thinking it’s appropriate for children to attend a drag show,” said one outraged parent. “I am even more disturbed that our Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary, school administrators and school board members were present and let it happen.”

Baumstark was also there to “celebrate” the drag show, with the progressive “inclusion and diversity” slogan, “Forever Forward,” shared via her Twitter account. 

As a result of the unauthorized drag show, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey vowed to investigate the event and remove any school board officials who allowed children to participate.

Bailey cited a Missouri statute which stipulates sex education must be age-appropriate as one mechanism for removal of school board members. He also cited a Missouri law that imposes criminal penalties for those who knowingly expose children to inappropriate sexual material.

“This is about protecting children,” Bailey told KCMO morning show host Pete Mundo. “And as long as I am Attorney General, our schools are going to be about education, not indoctrination, and the parents are going to have a say in that process.”

It’s unclear if the attorney general’s investigation had any influence on Sasser’s decision to abscond from the state.

School Board President Suzette Waters hasn’t yet disclosed the process that will be used to decide on a replacement for Sasser. 

According to the district policy, board members interview candidates and then appoint someone to fill the unexpired term, said the Columbia Missourian.

On Wednesday, the Missouri House sent two bills to the governor’s desk, one limiting transgender participation in sports, and the other limiting cross-sex treatments for minors. Gov. Mike Parson is expected to sign both.