Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Tuesday that he is filing a lawsuit against the Moberly School District for alleged Sunshine Law violations. This follows a claim he made in September, that the district denied, that a form the district uses violates state law. Schmitt claims the district has placed roadblocks in parents’ ability to record these IEP meetings, and the district “stonewalls parents from having a say in their child’s education.”
Superintendent Dr. Dustin Fanning said in September that Schmitt is mistaken in saying that it’s a consent form.
Fanning said the district has not denied any request to record one of these meetings, which are used to determine accommodation for students with special needs. Fanning says the district needs to know when meetings are being recorded.
Following the district’s response, the Attorney General’s Office filed a Sunshine Law request seeking documents related to how the Moberly Public School District formulated its IEP recording policy. Schmitt says the district sent his office an estimate of about three thousand dollars to cover the expenses necessary to accommodate his request.
The lawsuit incorporates four counts, and argues that the Moberly Public School District violated the Sunshine Law for request advance payments for public records, failing to use employees that would result in the least amount of charges for research time, and several other violations.
The Moberly School District responded in a written statement:
“The Moberly School District has become aware through a release from the Attorney General’s Office that a lawsuit has been filed by the Attorney General against Moberly School District. The District will respond to the lawsuit and feels confident that its conduct in this matter has met the requirements of the Sunshine law. The District is disappointed that the resources of the State of Missouri, and the patrons of the Moberly School District are being diverted away from the education of its students and expended in the defense of litigation of this nature. The Attorney General’s press release speaks to the District’s willingness to engage in open dialogue about this matter, yet no response to the District’s invitation to engage in a collaborative process was received from the Attorney General’s Office. The District is certainly aware of other similar litigation and a trend developing across the State, having observed the other lawsuits filed by the AG’s Office in the State against quality school systems. The Moberly School District will continue to focus its time and energy on providing a quality education to all of its students and will not abandon its educational commitment to all of its students.”