School boards group says it’s sorry for calling out angry parents

The National School Boards Association compared attacks on school board members to "domestic terrorism and hate crimes"
By: | October 25, 2021

The NSBA is apologizing for comparing attacks on school board members over masks, vaccines and critical race theory to domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

The National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden administration on Sept. 29 warning of an “immediate threat” of violence against school board members and asking the president to direct federal law enforcement to intervene.

“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 says.

Not long afterward, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country will begin working with state and local law enforcement agencies to crack down on threats against school boards and educators. But the NSBA and Garland have been accused of trying to restrict the free speech of parents as opposed to mask and vaccine mandates and critical race theory, among other issues.

“There was no justification for the some of the language included in the letter,” the National School Boards Association board of directors wrote in a memo to its members that was posted on Twitter. “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.”

Still, the organization, which did not respond to requests for comments, said in its memo that more work is needed to guarantee the safety of students, teachers and administrators.

Republican attorneys general from 17 states last week criticized Garland and the Biden Administration for their response to the NSBA’s plea for help and demanded a halt to any efforts that block parents’ rights to express their concerns.

“Concerned parents passionate about their kids’ education are not terrorists,” Indiana Attorney General Rokita wrote. “The Biden administration and its special-interest allies need to dial down the rhetoric and respect the rights of parents to be heard.”

Also last week, parents in two districts sued Garland, arguing that free speech gives them leeway to harass or intimate school board members and other educators over critical race theory and how concepts of anti-racism and sexual education are taught in schools.

The Biden administration’s actions criminalize public criticism of local school boards in violation of the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, says the lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Law Center on behalf of parents in Saline, Michigan and Loudon County, Virginia.