The board of directors of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has renounced the letter its top officials sent to President Joe Biden, asking him to investigate parents voicing concerns at local school board meetings as possible “domestic terrorists.”
The NSBA board of directors wrote Friday, “we regret and apologize for the letter” that had been signed by President Viola Garcia and CEO Chip Slaven, adding:
To be clear, the safety of school board members, other public school officials, and students is our top priority, and there remains important work to be done on this issue. However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.
“[W]e 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,” the letter continued.
The letter to Biden led multiple state school boards associations to consider cutting ties with the national organization.
The Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA) tweeted the letter by the NSBA’s board of directors:
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said while the NSBA’s apology is appreciated, “that doesn’t mean the underlying issue — keeping volunteer school board members safe from threats and violence — isn’t important. It is.”
“But NSBA recognized that the wording it used alienated many parents, our vital partners in public schools,” Green stated.
Emails obtained earlier this week through a public records request by Parents Defending Education indicated Garcia and Slaven worked with the White House prior to sending their September 29 letter to Biden requesting federal law enforcement use the PATRIOT Act to target parents as “domestic terrorists.”
The redacted emails revealed that, on October 2, Garcia wrote to the NSBA directors, “These are troubling times.”
“NSBA has been engaged with the White House and the Department of Education on these and other issues related to the pandemic for several weeks now,” she continued. “The pandemic and our heightened political environment have created a lot of tension in our society.”
What we have witnessed are coordinated efforts, playbooks, for creating chaos at school board meetings and in local communities. Letters across states are very similar and these incidents are beyond random acts. What we are now seeing is a pattern of threats and violence occurring across state lines and via online platforms, which is why we need the federal government’s assistance.
At least two NSBA directors, however, objected to what appears to be Garcia’s and Slaven’s decision not to consult with them prior to sending the letter to Biden.
Attorney General Merrick Garland testified Thursday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing he took the word of the NSBA that parents voicing their concerns at local school board meetings should be investigated as possible “domestic terrorists.”