Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly spoke via Zoom to Louisburg elementary students in March. Parents say the district didn’t provide advanced notice of the visit. And worse, according to parent Dan Smith, they didn’t receive notification of the contents of the discussion.
Open records requests to the school district and to the Governor’s office indicate that no one recorded the conversation, but students gave parents an idea about the contents of Kelly’s remarks.
Governor tells kids child vaccination is path to normalcy
According to parents, the Governor told students about a potential vaccine for children saying once kids could be vaccinated things could return to normal. She also discussed the sexual orientation of Congresswoman Sharice Davids, a Roeland Park Democrat.
“We were never notified as parents that this was going to take place,” Smith said. “We didn’t have the opportunity to know what the content was going to be. Had I known she was going to be talking about a woman’s ethnicity, her sexual orientation, and talking about the vaccine, the answer would have been no. You don’t get to have that conversation with my child without my permission.”
Sentinel requests notes, video of Governor’s meeting with kids
The Sentinel requested from Gov. Kelly’s office video of the event, correspondence related to the Louisburg event, and notes the Governor used for her speech. It took more than two months of pressure to get the Governor’s office to respond to the KORA request; they finally said a video of the Zoom meeting does not exist.
Clay Britton, chief counsel to the Governor’s office, said the office possesses notes or a draft copy of her speech. However, he wrote that the office withholds draft remarks as a matter of policy.
Smith is now a candidate for Louisburg USD 416 board of education. He is running for board position number 4 on a platform of bringing transparency for parents to the school district.
“8-11 year olds should not have to worry about the governor pushing her political agenda off on them while at school,” Smith said. “Discussing the vaccine, a person’s ethnicity, and sexual orientation was completely uncalled for. As a parent, it would have been nice to have been notified before this took place, and not by my 10-year-old daughter afterward.”
Parents upset about the content of Governor’s virtual visit
School and state officials billed the Governor’s virtual visit as Women’s History Month recognition. Women represent Louisburg in the state Senate and state House. Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Louisburg Republican, says the email invite landed in her spam folder. She never received a phone call from the district. However, she did receive calls from parents upset about the Governor’s discussion.
“Parents are upset because kids came home and seemed riled up,” Baumgardner said. “Am I going to get sick if I don’t get a shot? Am I going to die if I don’t get a shot?”
Vaccinating children is a high priority for Kelly.
Child vaccination high priority for Governor’s office
When Kelly asked the Legislative Coordinating Council to extend her emergency authority through the end of August, she listed child vaccination as the top reason for the extensions.
“First, we need to continue efforts to vaccinate school-aged children to allow schools to resume normal activities beginning this fall,” she wrote in a June 11 letter to the LCC. “…There was a notable decline in the rate of children vaccinations as school ended for the summer. Vaccination efforts planned around the back to school period of early to mid-August will greatly increase the rate of vaccinations for this age group.”
The World Health Organization recently said children under 12 should not be vaccinated, and the Centers for Disease Control found an unusually high incidence of heart issues with adolescents and young adults who were vaccinated. The Sentinel asked Governer Kelly if she would stop trying to vaccinate young children but they would not comment.
The LCC denied her request to extend her emergency declaration and powers. As of June 29, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports approximately 53,393 kids between the ages of 12-17 received the COVID-19 vaccine. That represents about 76 kids out of 1,000.