KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Lee's Summit R-7 School District has fired back at Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt over cease and desist letters he sent to several districts last week.
In the letters, Schmitt demanded the districts repeal any masks or vaccine requirements related to COVID-19.
Schmitt threatened the district's with legal action should they not comply with his requests. He cited a ruling by a Cole County Circuit Court, which said that health orders are null in Missouri.
In response, the district's legal counsel penned a letter to Schmitt saying his letters, "not only lack legal effect—they are simply wrong."
In the letter, the legal counsel outlined three reasons why the attorney general's letter lacked legal authority.
First, they said Schmitt doesn't have the authority to direct the district to cease and desist its COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The district's counsel also said the ruling made by the Cole County Circuit Court "is not binding to school districts," because they aren't parties in the suit.
Finally, the district's response said that the district doesn't need authority from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or any local health departments when making decisions on COVID-19 mitigation.
"The Missouri Legislature has expressly granted local boards of education wide-ranging power to manage and govern their own affairs, power that you have no authority to interfere with," the response said.
Should Schmitt follow through with a lawsuit, the district said it will "defend that suit vigorously."
Monday evening, Schmitt tweeted a response to the Lee's Summit district, with a letter outlining why he says the district has no legal authority to issue mask mandates or quarantine orders.
This evening, I set the record straight with the Lee's Summit School District: they are not above the law, and the district has no legal authority to issue mask mandates or quarantine orders. Period. #NoMaskMandates pic.twitter.com/kh43gJ2Wqp— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) December 14, 2021
The letter cited several court cases Schmitt believes give him power as attorney general to issue such guidance and cases that limit the power of entities like the school board.
"Ultimately, your client has an obligation to follow the law — not to flaunt it in an arbitrary and illegal manner," the attorney general's response read.
The Lee's Summit School District said it does not have anything to add to its original statement.
"As shared by its legal counsel last week, the Board of Education is committed to acting in accordance with the powers it is granted under state law. We do not have anything else to add as a district. Our focus remains on supporting students and staff as we prepare for winter break," a district spokesperson told KSHB 41 News.