School boards across America are changing the rules for public comment at their meetings in an attempt to intimidate and silence parents. In an effort to increase transparency, Southeastern Legal Foundation sent open records requests to various state school board associations seeking communications between the associations, local school boards, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), and the National Education Association (NEA) regarding public comment policies. When the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) refused to produce the requested records, SLF filed a lawsuit in Columbia, Missouri.
As SLF explained in its October 2021 Open Letter to American Parents, those at the highest level of our government joined with the NSBA in an attempt to openly intimidate, harass, and silence parents speaking up for their children. After labeling parent advocates “domestic terrorists,” school boards across the country sought to change their policies for public comment—limiting not only who can speak and for how long, but also unconstitutionally limiting the content and viewpoints to be shared. That is why SLF submitted its Sunshine Law request to MSBA.
Missouri’s Sunshine Law provides transparency and access to public records and applies to corporations that enter into contracts with public governmental bodies as its primary purpose, or that engage primarily in activities under agreements with public governmental bodies.
SLF through its lawsuit seeks to have MSBA recognized as a “quasi-governmental” body owing to its function in the training of public school board members and related services for public schools. SLF sought documents and communications with NSBA and NEA that would shed light on MSBA, NSBA, and the NEA’s role in directing the processes of school board meetings. The NSBA allegedly colluded with the White House and Department of Justice to investigate parents at school board meetings as possible domestic terrorists. MSBA has since publicly distanced itself from the NSBA and the request to investigate.