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Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania School Board Groups Leave National Association over Letter Likening Parents to Domestic Terrorists

Opponents of Critical Race Theory attend a packed Loudoun County School board meeting in Ashburn, Va., June 22, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

The Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania School Board Associations have terminated their membership with the National School Board Association after the national group failed to consult them before requesting that the FBI investigate parents for alleged “threats” against school personnel.

On Tuesday, the Ohio group sent a statement to Chip Slaven, the Executive Director of the NSBA, ending its affiliation with the national organization. The Ohio chapter cited the NSBA’s unilateral decision to write an open letter to the Biden administration likening parents to “domestic terrorists” as its justification for making the split, saying they would have objected had they been consulted.

The withdrawal “is a direct result of the letter sent by you to President Joe Biden late last month,” the OSBA said.

“The letter purported to be sent on behalf of state associations and school board members across the nation. This assertion could not be further from the truth. OSBA was not notified of the letter, nor were we asked for our thoughts on the matter,” the statement continued.

In its original letter, the NSBA asked President Biden to determine whether threats leveled by parents could be prosecuted as “domestic terrorism” and “hate crimes” under the Patriot Act, a characterization the Ohio group rejected. In response to this purported plea for assistance, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland published a memo directing the Department of Justice to collaborate with the FBI and federal law enforcement to investigate the alleged threats across school districts.

While the OSBA condemned intimidation and violence against school administrators, it repeated the assertion of many other state associations that “such interference should be dealt with at the local level, not by federal officials.”

“The NSBA demonstrated just how out of touch the national association is with the concerns of local school boards and the principle of local control,” the Ohio group concluded.

Also severing its relationship with the national organization was the Pennsylvania School Board Association, which voted unanimously last week to leave after the NSBA letter.

“The most recent national controversy surrounding a letter to President Biden suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw. This misguided approach has made our work and that of many school boards more difficult,” the group said.

“It has fomented more disputes and cast partisanship on our work on behalf of school directors, when we seek to find common ground and support all school directors in their work, no matter their politics. Now is not the time for more politics and posturing, it is the time for solutions to the many challenges facing education,” it added.

Citing similar objections to the NSBA letter, the Missouri School Board Association also cut ties with the national group, claiming that it “demonstrated it does not currently align with MSBA’s guiding principles of local governance,” the executive director told members in a recent statement.

Since Garland’s memo, at least 19 state school board associations have confirmed to non-profit Parents Defending Education that they were not informed or asked for input by the NSBA before the letter was drafted and mailed to the Biden administration.

Amid the backlash to what many parents and localities see as unprecedented federal intrusion, the NSBA apologized Friday for sending the letter.

“As you all know, there has been extensive media and other attention recently around our letter to President Biden regarding threats and acts of violence against school board members,” the memorandum stated. “On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for this letter. . . . There was no justification for some of the language included in this letter.”

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