In a letter issued on February 2, 2022, the ACLU of Missouri put the Wentzville School District on notice that they must protect and preserve all electronic and other discoverable items concerning the review and removal of any book or other written material from any school library.
The preservation demand letter states, in part:
"The ACLU of Missouri Foundation is investigating potential claims related to the review and removal of books and other written material from school libraries within the Wentzville School District. We are examining legal options on behalf of potential clients and, therefore, demand that you preserve all documents, videos, tangible things, and electronically stored information (“ESI”) that relates to the district’s processes, procedures, and criteria for reviewing library and curricular materials; all communications concerning the review and removal of any book or other written material from any school library (including emails, text messages from any app or platform, and social-media postings and messages from any app or platform), including any statement in support of or in opposition to removal of a particular book or other written material.
This demand explicitly includes but is not limited to all materials relating to school board meetings and review committee meetings at which All Boys Aren’t Blue, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Heavy: An American Memoir, or The Bluest Eye were discussed, considered for removal, and/or determined to be removed or at which any person commented on All Boys Aren’t Blue, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Heavy: An American Memoir, or The Bluest Eye. This preservation demand is limited to materials created or retained beginning on January 1, 2021, and is ongoing in nature.
Under Eighth Circuit precedent, the duty to preserve documents, attaches when a party “knew or should have known that the documents would become material” and “should have preserved them.” Stevenson v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 354 F.3d 739, 746 (8th Cir. 2004).
This letter is intended to formally make clear that you should anticipate legal action against you.
You should anticipate that much of the information subject to disclosure or responsive to discovery in this matter is stored on your current and former computer systems and other media and devices (such as: personal digital assistants, voice-messaging systems, online repositories and cell phones, video disks, etc.).
State and federal laws require that you preserve and at the appropriate time produce all sources of ESI."
Citizens with a complaint against the Wentzville School District related to potential violation of their rights may notify the ACLU of Missouri via this form: