Missouri AG praises school board members who blew whistle on closed-door trans discussion

Missouri AG praises school board members who blew whistle on closed-door trans discussion

Missouri AG praises school board members who blew whistle on closed-door trans discussion

As legal action by his office continues, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is alleging intimidation against the lawsuit’s primary sources: Whistle-blowing school board members.

Last September, two school board members for the Wentzville School District signed affidavits alleging the board ignored the state’s open meetings law by discussing the district’s transgender student bathroom policy in a closed meeting.

All totaled, three of five board members -- Renee Henke, Jennier Olson and David Lewis -- believed discussion of the policy should have been held in an open meeting to allow parents to attend.

The school district has approximately 12,000 students. It shares the name of the city of Wentzville, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Bailey, Andrew (Missouri AG) Bailey

In an appearance on "Washington Watch," Bailey recounted how the school board members informed his office about that meeting and how they had objected to that closed session which removed the public. 

"When they objected, some of the responses they got were that it was none of the parents’ darned business what the transgender policy was at these schools,” Bailey said. 

Soon after the lawsuit was filed, the board members faced pressure from other board members and from “entrenched interests at the school,” Bailey told show host Jody Hice.

The whistleblowers faced demands for censure and scrutinization of their email among other tactics.

Bailey, a Republican, responded with a cease-and-desist letter to Wentzville Superintendent Dr. Danielle Tormala.

“This is all designed to harass and intimidate brave men and women who voluntarily serve on these boards and put themselves out there in the public domain to do the right thing by children and parents," Bailey insisted. "Now they’re being intimidated because they wouldn’t go in lock step with a radical transgender bathroom policy." 

Tormala was hired as Wentzville’s first female superintendent prior to the 2022-2023 school year after previously serving as associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the City of St. Charles School District.

An online petition started last October by “Concerned WSD Taxpayers” calls for her firing and has 1,358 signatures.

AG challenges another district on sex curriculum

Bailey has also sent a cease-and-desist letter in late January to Webster Groves School District. He says it violated state law by showing students a video presentation on gender identity and sexual orientation without allowing parents the opportunity to “opt out.”

“The whole point here is that Missouri parents don’t co-parent with the government,” Bailey said.

“There are very strict guidelines built into Missouri statute that govern what can and cannot be taught when it comes to human sexuality," he stressed. "One of the provisions in the statute is a parental opt in or opt out procedure. In other words, schools have to abide by the statute and have to present that curriculum to the parents, and the parents can decide which curriculum is appropriate for their children.”

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an attorney for the school district suggested the district protects itself against his claims by annually sending out letters explaining its sex education curriculum.

Bailey said much of the material used by the district was provided by a Planned Parenthood affiliate.

“The materials promoted casual hook-ups for teens, promoted research into abortion and LGBTQ issues. Again, these are direct affronts to our statute. These are issues of human sexuality. It’s not a celebration of diversity. It’s a perversion of the law to call it anything other than curriculum because clearly, they’re trying to teach and sexualize kids, and we’re not going to let that happen,” Bailey said.

Bailey was appointed attorney general last year by Gov. Mike Parson. He is currently seeking his first full term and is being challenged in the GOP primary by attorney Will Scharf.