May 30, 2023
By Katy Bergen.
Executive Director of Public Relations
The Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri affirmed the broad powers of Missouri school boards to control and govern district operations in a court ruling issued Friday. The court’s order determined that the state Attorney General’s office had no lawful authority to interfere with the policy or governance decisions of locally elected officials.
The ruling by Jackson County Judge Marco Roldan was issued in response to a Lee’s Summit R-7 School District counterclaim asking the courts to confirm that former state Attorney General Eric Schmitt had no legal power to direct public schools to cease their COVID-19 mitigation efforts in December 2021.
The court ruling states that Mr. Schmitt’s December 7 and 9, 2021 letters to the District exceeded his authority and upholds the role of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board of Education to make governance decisions on behalf of its constituents.
“This ruling affirms that Missouri law empowers locally elected School Boards to control district operations,” Lee’s Summit R-7 Schools Board of Education President Rodrick Sparks said. “We’re thankful for this decision and the clarity it provides for our continued efforts to serve our students, staff and community.”
While Mr. Schmitt ultimately dropped his lawsuit against the district within a matter of months, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District continued its countersuit to establish the legal authority of the School District to manage future operational decisions.
“The School District has the utmost respect for the role of the Attorney General, and it applauds the ongoing service of our elected School Board members,” said Superintendent Dr. David Buck. “Missouri law protects local control, and we are pleased to see the courts reinforce that.”