Missouri Attorney General Orders Three School Districts to Cease and Desist Discriminatory Practices

2024-02-26 09:31:36

Andrew Bailey, Missouri’s Attorney General (pictured above), has sent CEASE & DESIST letters to three school districts that allegedly are openly engaging in racial and religious discrimination.

From the AG’s Press Release: Attorney General Bailey Warns School Districts to Immediately Cease Discriminatory Practices Against Students and Staff:

Today, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced that after receiving reports of religious and race-based discrimination occurring in Missouri schools, he directed letters to three school districts ordering them to immediately cease and desist discriminatory practices against their students and staff.

“This is about protecting the constitutional rights of all Missourians to be free from discrimination,” said Attorney General Bailey. “As the chief legal officer for the State of Missouri, I am prepared to exercise my office’s full authority under the law, including the Missouri Human Rights Act, to ensure no Missouri school district discriminates against its students or staff. As long as I’m Attorney General, discrimination will be dead on arrival in this state.”

The first letter, available for review here, alleged racial discrimination by the Lindbergh School District:

In his letter to Lindbergh School District, Attorney General Bailey noted it was brought to his attention that the district has instituted a race-based criteria for students seeking to enter the gifted program. “According to reports my office has received, the program’s traditional pathway to entry requires a student to score in the 95th national percentile on at least one screener or standardized test (math or reading) and in at least the 85th percentile on the other. Alternatively, students who are part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic population in the district are only required to achieve standardized test scores in the 84th percentile on one test (math or reading) and in the 50th percentile on the other before being considered for additional testing. The district’s policy states that its goal is to reach a 20% equity index for underrepresented student populations. If these reports are true, Lindbergh School District is discriminating on the basis of race, in direct violation of both state and federal law,” he wrote.

The second letter, available for review here, alleged religious discrimination by the Parkway School District:

In his letter to Parkway School District, Attorney General Bailey asserted he has received reports that the district is preventing students from forming religious-based clubs like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, prohibiting them from using the campus announcement system, hanging posters or holding meetings on campus. “State and federal law prohibit religious discrimination in schools. In addition, the district’s policies also prohibit religious discrimination… If the reports are true, Parkway Schools is violating all three, and must cease its unlawful behavior immediately,” he pointed out.

The third letter, available for review here, alleged racial discrimination in hiring by the Webster Grove School District:

In his letter to Webster Groves School District, Attorney General Bailey pointed out his office has received reports that the district has instituted race-based criteria for its employees and applicants. “If these reports are true, Webster Groves is discriminating on the basis of race in direct violation of both state and federal law. Racial discrimination is illegal in the United States. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer may not refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate, against employees of candidates because of their race… Classifying employees and applicants based on race and using this information to make hiring decisions would violate the law,” he wrote.

Note that Webster Grove is the same school district accused of adding “they/them” pronouns to its math curriculum, and giving kindergarten students coloring pages on preferred pronouns and gender expression, so I suppose it’s no surprise that it is accused of racial discrimination in its hiring practices.

In summary:

General Bailey ordered the districts to immediately cease and desist their allegedly discriminatory practices, with the promise that he will use his full authority under the law to ensure Missouri students and staff are free from such treatment.

Bravo to Attorney General Bailey for building on EPP’s work against discrimination in Missouri. Although we have no information indicating that EPP was an inspiration for or motivating factor for the AG in his latest letters, there is little doubt that he knew about EPP’s efforts given the wide media coverage EPP’s actions in Missouri garnered.

You can review the X thread AG Bailey posted describing his efforts:

Elon Musk is a fan!

As are overwhelming numbers of X users:

Perhaps this X user is on to something:

In April of last year, the Equal Protection Project (EPP) (equalprotect.org) filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office about a racially discriminatory small business “boot camp” at Missouri State University, as we reported:

Yesterday, EPP file[d] a complaint with the Missouri Office of Attorney General regarding an Early-Stage Business Boot Camp held at Missouri State University open only to “BIPOC” and females. White males were excluded.

You can review the complaint here:

We request that your office commence an investigation into and take enforcement action against Missouri State University (“MSU”) for a program that openly discriminates against white males.

MSU is engaging in racial- and gender-based discrimination through its sponsorship, promotion and hosting of a small business training “boot camp” that limits participation to individuals who identify as “BIPOC” – an acronym for non-white “Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color” – or who are female. White males, and white males alone, are excluded from eligibility. As this program is racially and gender exclusionary, it violates a variety of state and federal civil rights laws, as well as state and federal constitutional prohibitions on race- and gender-based discrimination.

We call on the Office of the Attorney General, which is charged with enforcing antidiscrimination laws in Missouri, to investigate this program, take all appropriate action to end such discriminatory practices, and impose remedial relief.

Our complaint got good media coverage, and the Heartlander news website, based in Missouri, covered the complaint and interviewed Professor Jacobson about it.

Fortunately, soon after we complained to the Missouri AG, and the Missouri media took note, MSU halted its racially exclusionary program:

We just received word that MSU has agreed not to bar white males from the boot camp in the future. The Heartlander reports on the MSU statement and our response (emphasis added):

A no-white-males-allowed bootcamp for business startups at Missouri State University was a one-off, and future trainings will be offered irrespective of race and gender, a spokesperson says.

Not good enough, says a national watchdog….

After being asked for comment by The Heartlander on Wednesday, an MSU spokesperson emailed on Thursday:

“The Early-Stage Business Boot Camp Program is designed to assist new and aspiring small business owners in establishing and growing their businesses. The Spring 2023 program was funded by the U.S. Bank Foundation and, on a one-time basis, focused on minority and/or women-owned businesses.

“On an ongoing basis, the efactory will continue to offer the Early-Stage Business Boot Camp Program at no cost to the participants, and irrespective of their race and/or sex.”

Professor Jacobson deemed MSU’s response to our complaint “not good enough” because:

“It should not have taken a complaint to the attorney general by the Equal Protection Project for MSU to acknowledge its obligation to administer the business boot camp without regard to an applicant’s race or sex,” Jacobson wrote in response to MSU’s statement. “MSU needs to make that commitment for non-discrimination across its programming, and to explicitly state that it will not permit programming focusing on the racial characteristics of attendees.

“MSU’s statement also does nothing to remedy the discriminatory harm, because it has not committed to offering more boot camps. MSU should commit to offering at least two more boot camps open to everyone so that those who were excluded based on race and sex have a chance to attend.

“Also, we continue to urge the attorney general to investigate how this clearly discriminatory boot camp was permitted to happen at MSU, and what other programming at MSU operates on a racially exclusionary or racially focused basis.”

Interestingly, MSU President Clif Smart didn’t think the school had done anything wrong, so EPP went further and filed a Complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which drew the interest of Fox News Digital:

A government watchdog organization on Friday filed a civil rights complaint against Missouri State University, A government watchdog organization on Friday filed a civil rights complaint against Missouri State University, alleging that the school’s business boot camp program illegally discriminated against white males….

“The OCR should investigate this program and the circumstances under which such a blatantly discriminatory program was approved, take all appropriate action to end such discriminatory practices, and impose remedial relief,” EPP said….

After EPP filed a complaint to the Missouri Attorney General in April, MSU said the program would be offered to everyone “irrespective of their race and/or sex.” …

EPP founder William A. Jacobson said the change was a “good first step” but argued that MSU “needs to publicly and officially acknowledge its wrongdoing, and make clear what steps it will take to make amends to the people wrongly excluded based on race and sex.”

“Missouri State also needs to state whether there are any other segregated or discriminatory programs, what investigation it has done to identify such programs, and what specific steps it will take to prevent such misconduct,” Jacobson said in a statement.

“It’s not enough, when caught, to say ‘oops, sorry.’ Sunlight needs to shine on the nature of DEI activities at Missouri State, and how such a blatantly discriminatory program was allowed to happen in the first place.”

Turns out, the goings on at MSU were not the only strange things happening in Missouri, as we extensively covered:

In any case, EPP is proud to be out front in efforts to hold entities accountable that engage in racial discrimination.






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Missouri Attorney General Orders Three School Districts to Cease and Desist Discriminatory Practices

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