Two state school board associations have condemned the National School Board Association’s (NSBA) request to President Joe Biden for federal law enforcement help to deal with frustrated parents who oppose Critical Race Theory and mask mandates in K-12 schools.
Statements by the Louisiana and Virginia School Board Associations, both members of NSBA, indicate neither group was consulted about NSBA’s intention to write its letter to Biden, one that led the Department of Justice to mobilize the FBI against parents, identifying them as “domestic terrorists,” when they speak out about their concerns to school administrators and board members.
— Louisiana School Boards Association (@LSBALeads) October 9, 2021
The Louisiana School Board Association (LSBA) said, typically, LSBA “does not address action by the NSBA nor Washington D.C. politics but feel it necessary to update our membership about NSBA’s recent request.”
LSBA explained further:
The LSBA was not consulted about the content of the letter. The LSBA does not agree with NSBA’s action. Our concern is that NSBA’s request and description of events is not a universal occurrence at all school boards, it fails to align with the standards of good governance, and it discourages active participation in the governance process. The NSBA’s request represents a huge step backwards in the collective advocacy efforts carried out by LSBA and other state associations in protecting and preserving openness, transparency, and local autonomy.
LSBA continued local school boards “should encourage and make every effort to enhance public participation and engagement during school board meetings.”
“There are times when discourse may be challenging to navigate but open discourse is a necessary course to chart in public service,” the state board association acknowledged.
LSBA stated clearly “threats are never an appropriate response,” and “should always be taken seriously and reported to the appropriate authority,” citing local law enforcement as the body to be contacted should concern for personal safety be an issue.
The letter to Biden from NSBA and resulting move by Attorney General Merrick Garland against parents, however, have clearly caused LSBA to reevaluate its relationship with the national group.
“The LSBA, along with other state associations, is now evaluating the future of our affiliation with NSBA,” the Louisiana association noted.
“The LSBA has long been a member of the NSBA but has not yet paid membership dues for the 2021-2022 year,” the group stated. “The LSBA team will meet with its Board of Directors to determine how to best address this situation and reevaluate the benefits of continued membership in the NSBA.”
They are coming one by one. This time the Virginia School Board Association. The other day it was Louisiana School Board Association. Let's see who will be next https://t.co/zSQdw3ahQ4
— Elana Yaron Fishbein "Domestic Terrorist" (@NoLeftTurnElana) October 10, 2021
The Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA), led by Janet Turner-Giles, president, and Gina G. Patterson, executive director, also noted it was “not consulted” about the letter from NSBA to Biden.
“The decision by NSBA to write this letter is not the first disagreement that VSBA has had with its national association and probably will not be the last, but it is important that our members and the citizens of this state know where VSBA stands,” the association stated, adding:
VSBA was founded on and continues to support the constitutional authority of local boards to manage and control the public schools of this state. Elected officials and appointed leadership who are closest to the community are best suited to make those decisions.
VSBA and its 132 local school division members recognize the vital role parents play in the education of their children and within the school community. Local boards in Virginia work very hard to listen to parents and other members of the community and to work as a collaborative team for the safety and achievement of all students. We must all work together to ensure a safe and nurturing learning environment for students.
“There is no justification for physical or verbal threats directed against school boards,” VSBA added. “Nor is there any excuse for disrupting a public meeting.”
“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,” the association asserted.