Tuesday, October 26, 2021

National School Boards Association Apologizes to Members for Letter Asking Feds to Investigate Angry Parents at Local School Board Meetings

By BCN Senior Editor | The Black Community News

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) letter to President Joe Biden requesting that the federal government investigate parents has caused enough backlash to prompt the organization’s board of directors to issue an apology to members.

NSBA president Viola M. Garcia and Interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven asked President Biden in September to bring the power of the federal government down on irate parents who speak and protest at school board meetings about “transgender” policies and exposing their children to “critical race theory” indoctrination. Parents are also concerned about whether it’s necessary for their children to wear masks all day.

The letter was criticized far and wide for suggesting that the federal government cite the Patriot Act to investigate parents for “domestic terrorism.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in response (PDF) that he would direct federal law enforcement officials to discuss strategies for dealing with a “disturbing spike” in “threats of violence.”

The Free Beacon reported that the White House knew about the letter before Garcia and Slaven sent it and suggested that the White House might have collaborated with them.

The board wrote in its letter of apology to members that while safety for all concerned is a priority, “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter,” and apologized for the “strain and stress.”

The letter mentions parents in the third paragraph.

“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 parents, who should and must continue to be heard when it comes to decisions about their children’s health, education, and safety.”

The board said it would conduct a “formal review” of its processes and procedures and announce “specific improvements” to ensure that staff, the board, and members would be consulted.

The NSBA did not apologize to parents.

Parents Defending Education asked 47 state school board associations to comment on the NSBA’s letter. Questions include whether they agree with the assertions, how they define “intimidation,” harassment,” and “threat,” and whether they plan to report parents to the U.S. Department of Justice. So far, 21 states distanced themselves from the NSBA’s letter.

Some states said they were are not consulted about it. Indiana said the federal response was overreach. Idaho wrote that had the NSBA asked its opinion before sending the letter, “we would have readily pointed out the mischaracterization of parents and patrons in our communities as domestic terrorists who merited federal investigation. We want parents and patrons engaged in our public schools – we have sought that for years.”

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, lawmakers asked Attorney General Garland about the memo. He said the memo didn’t mention domestic terrorism or the Patriot Act — although the NBSA’s letter did.

“Like you, I can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorists,” he told the committee.