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Attorney general wants to force JC Schools, other districts to turn over documents

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks while Gov. Mike Parson looks on.
KMIZ
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt speaks while Gov. Mike Parson looks on.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri's attorney general said Wednesday this his office is seeking to force the Jefferson City School District and six other districts to turn over information related to student surveys.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt's office said in a news release that it wants to know about student surveys "including some that asked students about their parents’ political beliefs and parents’ income levels and included racially-biased questions, among other things," that were sometimes administered without parents' consent.

Schmitt didn't give details about the JC Schools survey.

"Subjecting students to personal, invasive surveys created by third-party consultants potentially without parents’ consent is ridiculous and does nothing to further our children’s education," Schmitt said in the release. "After learning of these surveys, my Office has opened an investigation and sent subpoenas to seven school districts across the state to get to the bottom of these surveys and put a stop to them.”

Schmitt said his office wants to determine whether the surveys could violate two laws -- the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment.

JC Schools is the only Mid-Missouri district being subpoenaed, according to the news release. However, Schmitt also highlighted what he said was a Hickman High School assignment in encouraging parents to submit information to his office about assignments and activities they find objectionable.

The document appears to be a literature assignment and asks students how things such as gender identity, economic class and race play into a story's themes. The document was among several that Schmitt said his office obtained from school districts through open records requests.

"Further, through our Students First Initiative, we’ve received submissions from parents across Missouri, and in an effort to increase transparency in our schools, my Office has sent open records requests to a number of schools across the state," Schmitt said, encouraging parents to browse his office's transparency portal.

Schmitt, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, has sued dozens of districts across the state over coronavirus mask requirements. Just a few of those lawsuits are still active, including one against Columbia Public Schools. The district has not required masks for several months.

CPS has been critical of Schmitt's actions toward schools.

Schmitt's office is also requesting information from Educational Equity Consultants, a company he says works with many Missouri schools.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri Politics
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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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