Missouri AG Orders School District to End Race-Based Hiring

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey ordered a St. Louis school district Wednesday to abandon race-based hiring after The Daily Signal reported on the district’s plan to double its percentage of minority teachers. 

Bailey, a Republican, wrote to Webster Groves School District Superintendent John Simpson to demand that he and other administrators “cease and desist using all unlawful race-based preferences and quotas it has adopted for hiring and retention.” 

“Under both state and federal law, school districts may not treat employees and applicants differently because of their race and may not set racial quotas,” Bailey said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Signal. 

According to the Webster Groves district’s three-year strategic plan, teaching and administrative staff should match the racial demographics of the school system’s student body. 

In the 2023-2024 school year, 11% of teachers and administrators for Webster Groves were nonwhite while 22.2% of the student body was nonwhite. 

To achieve its stated goal, Webster Groves would have to increase its nonwhite faculty by 11 percentage points by 2026. 

The school district appears to be in violation of state and federal law, Bailey said.

“Classifying employees and applicants based on race and using this information to make hiring decisions would violate the law,” the attorney general wrote. 

Racial discrimination is illegal in the United States under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from refusing to hire job candidates because of their race, Bailey reminded the school district. The Missouri Human Rights Act also prohibits race-based hiring, firing, segregation, or other measures that would take away employment opportunities,  he noted. 

Bailey referenced the Supreme Court’s June decision, in Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard, affirming that all racial discrimination is illegal regardless of motivation.  

“After all, well-intentioned racial discrimination is just as illegal as invidious discrimination, and for good reason,” Bailey wrote. 

A spokesman for the Webster Groves school district did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by time of publication. 

The attorney general pledged to use his power as Missouri’s chief legal officer to “protect the constitutional rights of all Missourians, including the right to work free from the evil of racial discrimination.” 

“I am prepared to exercise my office’s full authority under the law, including the Missouri Human Rights Act, to ensure that no Missouri employer discriminates against an applicant or employee because of the color of his or her skin,” he said. “Racism has no place in Missouri.”

This was the second time this year that Bailey has issued  a “cease and desist” order to the Webster Groves district. 

At the end of January, as The Daily Signal reported, the Missouri attorney general told the school district to stop teaching students about human sexuality, including gender ideology, without parental consent ahead of time.

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