School board drama reaches fever pitch as 3 states leave national organization for board members
Yahoo News!/Insider | By Jake Epstein | October 26, 2021
- Three state school board associations have left the national organization in the past week.
- The states cited anger over the national organization’s request to Biden for federal assistance.
- Board meetings have become battlegrounds across the United States in recent months, with angry parents threatening members and protesting.
Three state school board associations have left the national organization in the past week as culture war drama at school districts boils over, according to multiple reports.
Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania’s governing school boards all withdrew from the National School Boards Association (NSBA), citing anger over a recent request for White House intervention following a trend of unruly school board meetings that have devolved into threats and – in some cases – violence.
In Missouri, the school board association said that the national board’s principles don’t align with that of the Missouri School Board Association, local news station KMIZ reported on Monday, and that there isn’t a need for federal assistance.
“We also believe that no school board member or educator should ever have to endure threats of violence or acts of intimidation against themselves or their families for making these difficult decisions,” MSBA officials said in a statement, according to the report.
“Attempting to address that issue with federal intervention should not be the first step in most cases, and is antithetical to our long-standing tradition of local control,” the school board association added.
Ohio’s school boards association (OSBA) said in a letter to the NSBA on Monday that it was cutting ties with the national organization specifically because of the letter to the White House requesting intervention, which suggested threats of violence could be investigated as “a form of domestic terrorism.”
“OSBA believes strongly in the value of parental and community discussion at school board meetings, and we reject the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists,” wrote OSBA President Robert Heard and Chief Executive Officer Richard Lewis.
The OSBA letter claimed that the national organization is out of touch with local associations, and that school board issues should be dealt with at a local level.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s school boards association voted last week to withdraw from the national organization for similar reasons, local news station WESA reported.
“Attempting to solve the problems with a call for federal intervention is not the place to begin, nor a model for promoting greater civility and respect for the democratic process,” PSBA said in a statement, according to the report.
School board meetings are a mess
School board meetings across the country have grown increasingly heated over the last few months as parents and community members wage war over proposed mask mandates and the supposed teaching of “critical race theory” in class.
The NSBA said in its letter to the Biden administration at the end of September that the country’s schools and education leaders are under an “immediate threat.”
In the letter, the NSBA asked the federal government for “law enforcement and assistance” from agencies like the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland security to manage “the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation,” the body’s president, Viola M. Garcia, and interim executive director, Chip Slaven wrote.
The NSBA did not immediately respond to a request from Insider for comment.