At least 11 state-level school boards have distanced themselves from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) after it pushed for federal law enforcement to crack down on “threats of violence and acts of intimidation” at local school board meetings.
State-level school boards in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia have issued statements blasting the NSBA over its September 29 letter to the Biden administration. School boards in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Texas have said that the NSBA did not reach out to them before writing to President Joe Biden, according to the Washington Examiner.
While recognizing “alarming incidents and comments which extend beyond civil civic discourse” at school board meetings, the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA) said the NSBA letter called for “federal overreach” and should be retracted.
“Several elements of your letter run counter to the tenets embraced by the FSBA, and this communication has caused serious concerns, conflict, and consternation for many of our members within the FSBA,” the FSBA wrote in an October 11 response. “Not only has it unnecessarily distracted from the important work being carried out by our members, it has strained important local and state collaborative relationships our members have worked hard to build and maintain for years.”
The Louisiana School Boards Association (LSBA) wrote in a letter “The LSBA was not consulted about the content of the letter. The LSBA does not agree with NSBA’s action. Our concern is that NSBA’s request and description of events is not a universal occurrence at all school boards, it fails to align with the standards of good governance, and it discourages active participation in the governance process. The NSBA’s request represents a huge step backwards in the collective advocacy efforts carried out by LSBA and other state associations in protecting and preserving openness, transparency, and local autonomy.”
The Missouri School Boards Association, which is not a member of the NSBA, wrote, “While we recognize that there are serious issues occurring around the country and in some communities in Missouri, we strongly disagree with the tone of the NSBA letter and especially with the call for federal involvement.”
The Virginia School Boards Association wrote, “While the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) is a member of NSBA, it was not consulted about this letter, did not provide information to NSBA, and was not informed that the letter was being sent.” The VSBA went on to say policing of local school board meetings should be handled by local officials.
After the NSBA letter was sent, the Biden administration ordered the FBI to begin consulting with local law enforcement on how to respond to reports of threats and harassment against local school boards.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI last week to begin investigating a recent spike in “harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school administrators. He published the new directive in an October 4 memo.
“In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools,” the memo said, without citing specific examples. “While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, the protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.”
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety,” it continued.
Garland said that FBI and DOJ officials should work with local and state officials to develop plans to “discourage” threats and potentially prosecute violators.
“The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate,” Garland wrote, adding that the DOJ would announce a plan to combat the rise the threats “in the coming days.”