A group representing national school board associations on Wednesday called on President Joe Biden and the federal government to help examine threats against school board members and educators to see if laws have been broken regarding bullying, Hate crimes or domestic terror, such as anger over masks and critical race theory have boiled across the country.
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threat,” says the letter, signed by Viola M. Garcia, President of the Association of National School Boards, and Chip Slaven, Acting Executive Director of the NSBA.
The NSBA requested resources from the US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service and its National Threat Assessment Center “regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members and facilities / campus. ” They also sought help from the United States Postal Inspection Service regarding threat letters and cyberbullying.
“As these malicious acts, violence and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be tantamount to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” said the association of school boards in his letter to Biden.
The letter comes after a series of heated school board meetings across the country regarding Covid-19 safety protocols and critical race theory, the often misunderstood concept examining the role of institutional racism in American history.
“The greatest number and the greatest concern that we have are the threats of violence, the coordinated efforts that we seem to see because of the similarities between the states,” Garcia told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday.
“It gives us a break, a big break, because not only are we charged at the school board level (with) the academic viability of our students, but we are also responsible for the safety and security of not only the students but the staff and community members entering and leaving our buildings.
In Tennessee, a group opposed to the demands of masks in schools heckled and threatened people outside of a school board meeting. A school board meeting in Idaho to discuss a temporary mask term has been canceled due to “security concerns” amid a group of noisy protesters. In Virginia, one person was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after chaotic school board meeting on a policy proposal towards transgender students and critical race theory.
A White House spokesperson told CNN that the Biden administration was “exploring what more could be done across the administration” regarding the NSBA’s request.
“We take the safety and security of public servants and elected officials across the country very seriously,” the spokesperson told CNN on Thursday. “While we would refer you to the appropriate law enforcement authorities for any questions about specific threats, we would certainly encourage individuals to report any threats they face to local and state law enforcement agencies. “
In its request, the NSBA cited several news articles implicating threats against board members, including a letter mailed to a member of the Ohio school board that said “We’re after you. and all the members of the… BoE [Board of Education]The letter posted accused the board member of forcing the students to wear masks in order to control the students, ‘and you will pay dearly for that.’
The NSBA noted that in addition to individual threats, groups are posting “watch lists” against school boards.
“Coupled with attacks on school board members and educators for approving mask policies to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats due to propaganda claiming the false inclusion of critical race theory in classroom education and curricula, ”the NSBA wrote to Biden.
In the letter, the NSBA says that even if school board members want to hear from community members, basic safety measures need to be in place. And while local jurisdictions have helped, federal involvement is needed when it comes to monitoring threat levels.
The NSBA says the threats impact the desire of school board members to continue working and their ability to do the work they need, and also present “a clear and present danger to civic participation.”
“These threats and acts of violence are affecting our country’s democracy at very basic levels,” the letter said.
This story has been updated to reflect Viola M. Garcia’s comments on CNN’s “New Day”.
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