The Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Board of Trustees voted to end its affiliation with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) after the latter requested a federal crackdown on recent “threats” to school board members.
“The Board of Trustees’ decision was prompted by NSBA’s recent letter to President Joe Biden requesting federal intervention at local school board meetings,” OSBA Chief Executive Officer Rick Lewis said in a statement.
The OSBA’s move is the latest in a wave of criticism and backlash against the NSBA over the letter, which the national organization apologized for last week. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association was the first state-level group to rescind its membership to the NSBA on October 14.
The OSBA slammed the NSBA for sending the letter without first consulting the state organization and for undermining parent and community-centered education in favor of federal control.
“OSBA believes strongly in the value of parental and community discussion at school board meetings, and we reject the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists,” the state association said in a letter to the NSBA on Monday. “There is tremendous value in allowing and encouraging the public to have meaningful input into the decision-making process. However, that participation should not come at the expense of interfering with the board’s ability to conduct its business or subjecting individual board members to threats of violence, abuse, or harassment. That said, dealing with such interference should be dealt with at the local level, not by federal officials.”
The NSBA apologized on Friday for its letter, which preceded Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to issue a DOJ memo.
“On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter,” the organization wrote in a letter to NSBA members. “To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials and educators, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue. However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance. We apologize also for the strain and stress this situation has caused you and your organizations.”
“As we’ve reiterated since the letter was sent, we deeply value not only the work of local school boards that make important contributions within our communities, but also the voices of parents, who should and must continue to be heard when it comes to decisions about their children’s education, health, and safety,” the apology continued.
In its original letter to the Biden administration, the NSBA did not blame parents, but claimed that individuals, including parents, were causing chaos at local school board meetings across the country.
“Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula,” the letter said.
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the letter said.