‘An Immediate Threat’: National School Board Group Calls on Biden to Combat ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Toward Educators During Pandemic Turmoil
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The 90,000-member National School Boards Association has written a letter urging the Biden administration to take action against the increasing threats and violence towards education leaders. The tensions surrounding schools’ pandemic response and teachings about systemic racism have created a volatile environment that poses an immediate threat to schools and educators. The association is calling on the federal government to utilize existing statutes, such as the Gun-Free School Zones Act and the PATRIOT Act, to investigate, intercept, and prevent these threats and acts of violence against public school officials. They emphasize the need for a collaborative effort between local and federal law enforcement agencies to address what they describe as "domestic terrorism" occurring at school board meetings, through the U.S. Postal Service, and on social media.
The association highlighted over 20 instances of threats, harassment, and intimidation targeting education officials during school board meetings in recent months. They attribute this increase in aggression to the approval of mask policies and the inclusion of critical race theory in classroom instruction and curricula. The combination of attacks against school board members and educators and the physical threats received due to false propaganda has created a critical time that necessitates a proactive approach to protect the safety and well-being of those involved.
The White House has yet to respond to the letter and provide a comment on the matter.
School board meetings have become a focal point of political unrest, with conservative groups and former Trump administration officials capitalizing on public frustration as part of their campaign strategy. While news articles have reported on the divisive and occasionally violent rhetoric expressed during these meetings, it remains unclear if any education leaders have been physically harmed.
There have been specific instances of violence and threats against school officials. In Illinois, a man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a school official during a board meeting. In Ohio, a school board member received a threatening letter warning of retaliation for implementing mask mandates. School leaders across the country have also shared incidents of online threats and vandalism targeted at them. Some school districts, like the Rockwood School District in suburban St. Louis, have resorted to hiring private security to ensure staff safety.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals has joined the call for federal officials to do more to protect school leaders from hostility and violence. They believe these disruptive actions pose a threat to the safety of educators and students.
Both the school boards association and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued a joint statement condemning the use of violent threats during board and community meetings. They stress the importance of freedom of speech but emphasize that aggression, intimidation, threats, and violence against superintendents, board members, and educators will not be tolerated.
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