Florida School Boards Association Cuts Ties with NSBA Following Letter Targeting Parents as ‘Domestic Terrorists’

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The Florida Schools Boards Association (FSBA) voted unanimously this week to end its association with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as of December 1.

FSBA said in a statement it did not submit its dues payment to NSBA for the 2020-2021 year after a reassessment of the value of continuing its relationship with the national group amid “concerns surrounding NSBA’s governance, leadership, transparency, and failure to embrace non-partisanship.”

The Florida organization said its decision to cut ties with NSBA “was made in response to a persistent pattern of dysfunction” with the national organization and among its leaders.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted his support for the decision:

“I am glad the Florida School Boards Association unanimously voted to leave the National School Boards Association, and I hope more school boards across the country will follow suit instead of supporting their partisan and dangerous policies,” the governor said.

The move comes in the wake of NSBA’s highly controversial letter to President Joe Biden asking him to mobilize federal law enforcement to investigate parents expressing concern about education issues as potential “domestic terrorists.”

According to grassroots parents’ organization Parents Defending Education (PDE), 17 states have now severed ties with NSBA:

During FSBA’s annual Joint Conference and Board of Directors’ Meeting Tuesday, Dr. Steve Gallon III, vice chairman of Miami Dade Public Schools, discussed that NSBA’s lack of transparency and accountability has caused him to recommend cutting ties with the organization, reported Space Coast Daily.

Brevard County School Board Member Matt Susin, chair of FSBA’s Advocacy Committee, said the state organization has had concerns NSBA has not responded to its letter containing a list of demands:

For years, we have requested a change in culture and direction from the NSBA and instead of working to improve, the organization has chosen a path of continued degradation and lack of leadership.

It’s time for Florida to take a role in shaping a new direction for school boards on the national stage with leadership values that are more in line with improving the future of public education.

FSBA had previously rejected the national organization’s letter to Biden requesting FBI involvement in local school board issues.

In October, Executive Director Andrea Messina wrote to NSBA President Viola Garcia and interim Executive Director Chip Slaven of the state association’s concern it was not consulted about the letter to the president, a situation that, she said, suggested the need for “a review of NSBA leadership and its processes.”

Two weeks after NSBA sent its letter to Biden, the Education Department announced October 13 it had appointed Garcia to the National Assessment Governing Board, a top position that provides oversight regarding which subjects students will be tested on in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

In emails obtained via a public records request, PDE discovered the White House was already “actively engaged” with NSBA’s Garcia and Slaven prior to the group’s letter to Biden.

In an internal memo, Garcia informed state association executive directors that a meeting had taken place with the White House on September 14, two weeks before the NSBA officials sent their letter to Biden.

“NSBA has been actively engaged with the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Surgeon General, and other federal agencies,” she wrote.

On October 4, Garland’s office announced a memorandum would be widely shared throughout the Department of Justice that Garland was ordering all U.S. Attorney Offices and local FBI offices to reach out to local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate efforts on the “disturbing trend” of threats by parents as described by NSBA within 30 days of the memorandum.

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