Too little, too late for the National School Board Association (NBSA), which used inflammatory language to describe concerned parents at school board meetings. The group apologized for its letter to the Biden administration and said that there was “no justification” for the language used in the letter.
The NSBA issued a statement after significant public backlash and claimed, “We regret and apologize for the letter.” It added, “There was no justification for some of the language included in the letter” and said they should have “had a better process in place to allow for some consultation” from local school boards on the letter. In short, the NSBA did not ask for input from the school board members that it claims to serve.
Several state boards of education announced they were withdrawing, or will evaluate their options, from the NSBA after the letter went public. The Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana boards announced their withdrawal from the NSBA while three others, Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky, were considering the same move.
So far, the Biden administration has authorized Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate parents through creating a task force in addition to providing support and training to local law enforcement to monitor potential violence against school board members.
In its original letter, the NSBA said that parents’ rhetoric and protests were an “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.” In the minds of the NSBA, parents protesting mask mandates for school-age children, the integration of Critical Race Theory into curricula, and enforcing gender pronouns on all students and staff were equal to committing acts of domestic terrorism.
The letter also called on the federal government to use the anti-terrorist PATRIOT Act to spy on parents who attend school board meetings and voice their opinions, although these parents have a right to do so under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The apology from the NSBA did not specifically apologize for the unconstitutional recommendations it made, and neither did it push for the Biden administration to dissolve the DOJ’s efforts. It means that it is likely that the DOJ will continue to monitor parents under the auspices of potentially committing violence against school board members.
Before Congress, Garland dodged questions on whether the DOJ will violate the First Amendment rights of parents. Although Garland claimed that the DOJ “supports and defends the First Amendment right of parents to complain as vociferously as they wish,” he did not say that he would dissolve the task force.
One example of the DOJ’s overreach tactics was in the northern Virginia suburb of Fairfax County. One parent in northern Virginia claimed that federal agents monitored her and fellow protesters at the Fairfax County school board meeting and posted pictures on social media to prove it.
Adding fuel to the fire were the news that NSBA internal emails showed disagreement over the inflammatory language and the NSBA allegedly coordinated with the DOJ to spy on concerned parents.