SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Two women who sued the Springfield school district over having to undergo mandatory racial equity training have been ordered to pay the district’s legal fees.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Harpool ordered Jennifer Lumley and Brooke Henderson to pay the district $312,869 in legal fees, The Springfield News-Leader reported.
Harpool ruled against the women in January after they claimed in their lawsuit that the training they were required to take in the 2020-21 school year violated their constitutional rights.
In his ruling last week, Harpool said the two women, who still work for the district, had not shown they were harmed in any way by the training. He said they were trying to draw the school district into a political dispute, rather than seeking damages for actual harm.
“This court is a forum for litigation of genuine disputes of fact and law alone, rather than frivolous political disagreement,” Harpool wrote.
District spokesman Stephen Hall said school officials were pleased the court found the plaintiffs’ were frivolous and said the tax dollars spent defending the against the lawsuit could have been better spent on students.
Henderson and Lumley are represented by the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a nonprofit that has filed numerous lawsuits involving school training, critical race theory and COVID-19 policies.
Their attorneys have said they plan to appeal Harpool’s ruing from January.