There are now at least 11 total state-level school board groups who have decided to put a little distance between themselves and the National School Boards Association letter that was written to President Joe Biden and called upon the Justice Department to start looking into allegations of threats and violence being made at school board meetings.
Some of these groups went beyond distancing and actually condemned the letter outright.
Attorney General Merrick Garland sent out a memo earlier in the month that warned of a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against local schools across the country, and then stated that the DOJ would “discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.”
The NSBA went on to argue back in the month of September that “the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
State-level school boards in Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Tennessee have now joined Louisiana and Virginia in criticizing the NSBA’s letter and made it clear they had not been consulted before the letter was sent to Biden. The state school boards in New Hampshire, Texas, and Pennsylvania also have said the NSBA did not reach out to them about the letter beforehand.
The Florida School Boards Association issued a letter this week criticizing the “federal overreach” the national group desired and saying the letter “caused serious concerns, conflict, and consternation for many of our members,” adding that it “unnecessarily distracted from the important work being carried out by our members.”
The group condemned any violence but stressed that “we respect Florida’s open meeting laws, invite disparate beliefs to be shared, and believe hearing from passionate stakeholders is a sign of a healthy community engagement.” It said it hadn’t paid its national dues and was reevaluating its membership in the national group.
An advocacy group known as Parents Defending Education also reached out to school boards all across the nation.
“We disagree with much of the substance of the letter. School board meetings should be a place of communication, discourse and productive decision making for the betterment of students,” the Arkansas state school board went on to say concerning the letter.
“We were disappointed with the NSBA letter and have clearly expressed our disagreement to them in no uncertain terms. We absolutely and unequivocally believe in the First Amendment rights of parents and all citizens to speak freely and petition their governments. We appreciate the passion parents and others have for Missouri’s schools and the children we are serving. We encourage that passion and must create safe opportunities for voices to be heard,” the Missouri group stated.
The school board group in Tennessee, which is not affiliated with the NSBA stated that it, “believes that parental and family involvement in the education of each child is essential to academic success” and lamented that “NSBA’s advocacy efforts are focused more on contentious issues that divide their membership instead of educational issues that should further the mission of their members.”
Many Republican senators and congressman, along with various parent groups and activists, have started to question whether or not Garland has a conflict of interest in this issue due to the fact his son-in-law started an education company called Panorama Education.