The national organization of public school boards is calling on the Biden administration to protect its members from “angry mobs” of parents who protest against COVID-19 restrictions placed on students and the teaching of critical race theory, characterizing the protests as “domestic terrorism.”
The National School Boards Association (NSBA), which represents more than 90,000 school board members in the United States, wrote in a Sept. 29 letter (pdf) to President Joe Biden that the federal government must “deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”
The letter moves on to cite incidents of “threats or actual acts of violence” against school leaders, alleging that parents who sought to express their opposition to mask and COVID-19 vaccination policies have been “inciting chaos” during school board meetings. It also denies critical race theory is being taught in classrooms, and describes parents’ attempts to hold school board members accountable by posting watchlists online as “spreading misinformation.”
“As these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent,” the letter claims, “NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.”
Specifically, the NSBA asked that federal agencies such as FBI, the Secret Services, and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security “investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence” by whatever “extraordinary measures” necessary.
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crime,” the NSBA argued in the letter, encouraging the federal agencies to use laws designed to target domestic terrorism, such as the PATRIOT Act, to address the issue.
The group also asked Biden to direct the U.S. Postal Service to filter “threatening letters” and intervene in “cyberbullying attacks” that target students, teachers, and school leaders.
The call for support comes days after the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) made a similar request, arguing that the federal government needs give school leaders the authority to expel “threatening individuals” from their schools.
“At the very least, we need the U.S. Department of Education to issue specific guidance on the authority school leaders have to protect themselves and our ability to remove or ban hostile parents and individuals from school grounds who threaten our safety,” said NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe in a Sept. 16 statement.