Missouri Attorney General Sues School Board over Critical Race Theory

Pre-kindergarten students listen as their teacher reads a story at Dawes Elementary in Chicago, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Chicago Public Schools students began their return to the classroom Monday as school doors opened to thousands of pre-kindergarten and some special education students after going remote last March due to the …
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, Pool

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Springfield Public Schools (SPS) over its refusal to disclose its Critical Race Theory curriculum and “demanding exorbitant fees for public records.”

The lawsuit alleges that SPS has “publicly acknowledged that they are instructing teachers and staff on critical race theory.” Among other examples, the suit provides as evidence an “oppression matrix” from which staff are required to identify their placement.

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools Oppression Matrix. (ago.mo.gov)

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools Oppression Matrix. (ago.mo.gov)

According to the matrix, which pictures raised fists breaking free of shackles, “privileged social groups” include “White People,” “Male assigned at birth,” and “Protestants,” while “Oppressed Social Groups” include “Asian, Black, Latina/o, Native People,” “Female assigned at birth,” “Working Class, Poor People,” and “Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs.”

In another display, comparing “overt white supremacy” with “covert white supremacy,” staff are told that “covert white supremacy” includes “colorblindness,” “treating kids of color as adults,” “tone policing,” “claiming reverse-racism,” “all lives matter,” “calling the police on black people,” and “education funding from property tax.”

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools (ago.mo.gov).

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools Covert White Supremacy (ago.mo.gov).

Furthermore, a display titled “Understanding White Supremacy Continued” cites “Make America Great Again,” “police murdering POC [Persons of Color],” “celebration of Columbus Day,” and “denial of racism,” as “socially acceptable … covert white supremacy.”

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools Understanding White Supremacy. (ago.mo.gov)

Springfield, Missouri Public Schools Understanding White Supremacy Continued. (ago.mo.gov)

Schmitt’s lawsuit against SPS appears to be on behalf of concerned parents who have been attempting to get access to SPS’s Critical Race Theory materials but have seen insurmountable roadblocks put in place by the school board. According to the lawsuit, after Schmitt’s office filed to obtain materials, the school district sent them a bill for an initial deposit of $37,000.

The “Fall District-Wide Equity Training” slides can be found here.

In an announcement on Twitter, Schmitt said, “The effort to indoctrinate our kids through the divisive lens of #CriticalRaceTheory is happening in the heartland. Springfield Public Schools has been caught red handed & now are refusing to provide documents we’ve requested.”

The Missouri attorney general identified other examples of Critical Race Theory trainings in the Twitter thread, including “racist statements” such as” ‘people are just people, I don’t see color,’ & ‘America is the land of opportunity, built by rugged individuals, where anyone with grit can succeed if they just pull up hard enough on their bootstraps.'”

The lawsuit also points out that SPS’s Chief Equity and Diversity Officer “claimed that the need for social justice in K-12 education today equals or exceeds the need during times of segregation,” saying:

In 2020, with four years of an administration that has focused on school choice, the restriction of diversity training for state and or governmental entities like schools and threatening funding of schools who wish to expand their curriculum to become culturally consciousness [sic] and other dangerous tactics to stop inclusive learning for students, the role of social justice in K‒12 public education is just as important as it was during segregation if not more. [Emphasis added].

In a press release, Schmitt said, “Parents have every right to know exactly what is being taught to their children, especially when public school systems are implementing components of critical race theory and so-called ‘antiracism’ teachings in teacher trainings and applying social justice scorecards to math and other core curriculum.”

“Springfield Public Schools has skirted our efforts to demand answers and transparency for parents who send their kids to Springfield Public Schools by demanding exorbitant fees for public records,” he continued. “Now, we’re taking Springfield Public Schools to court for those public records. I will always fight for parents’ rights to know exactly what schools are teaching their children.”

The court case is State of Missouri v. School District of Springfield in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri.

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