School Boards Associations Slam NSBA's Letter to DOJ Over 'Threats' to School Officials

Posted: Oct 11, 2021 7:05 PM
School Boards Associations Slam NSBA's Letter to DOJ Over 'Threats' to School Officials

Source: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

School boards associations in Louisiana, Virginia and Florida condemned the letter that the National School Boards Association sent to the White House, emphasizing that local law enforcement is capable of handling any threats that may arise at school board meetings.

The Department of Justice issued a memorandum last week that directed the Federal Bureau of Investigations to "address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff." This, after the NSBA's Sept. 29 letter to President Joe Biden requested the assistance of federal law enforcement to handle "threats of violence" against school board officials amid growing outrage from parents and community members over controversial issues such as critical race theory and mask mandates.

But, in response to the NSBA's letter to the president, the Louisiana School Boards Association, the Virginia School Boards Association and the Florida School Boards Association issued separate letters, in which they each stated their disagreements with the national organization while also acknowledging that threats against school officials do occur. The LSBA, VSBA and FSBA all pointed out in their respective letters that they were particularly disturbed by the NSBA's request for federal law enforcement to become involved in local matters.

Each of their letters also noted that they were not consulted by the NSBA about the letter before it was sent to the president.

The letters from the state-level organizations said that it is important to curb threats against school officials while also encouraging the public to still participate and engage in board meetings.

"There are times when discourse may be challenging to navigate but open discourse is a necessary course to chart in public service. However, threats are never an appropriate response," the LSBA wrote in its letter, dated Oct. 4.

VSBA said that it recognizes the "vital role" that parents play in their children's education and stated that any threats made against school board members, teachers or administrators should be dealt with by local authorities, not the federal government.

"There is no justification for physical or verbal threats directed against them, their staff and certainly not the students.  Nor is there any excuse for disrupting a public meeting," VSBA wrote Oct. 6. "When such unfortunate events occur, the local officials, working with local law enforcement, must deal with the situation appropriately. While we look for support to our state and federal governments, we do not seek the involvement of federal law enforcement or other officials in local decisions."

FSBA wrote in its Oct. 11 letter that NSBA's letter to the president has "caused serious concerns, conflict, and consternation for many of our members within the FSBA." 

"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 letter continues, adding that such relationships include those with "our governor, Legislature, local law enforcement, communities, and our members questioning our commitment to the First Amendment rights of citizens."

FSBA also pointed out that it is no longer paying dues to NSBA over concerns with the national organization's "governance, leadership, transparency, and failure to embrace non-partisanship."

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