Story at a glance
- The National School Boards Association (NSBA) published an open letter to President Biden requesting help in investigating and protecting against threats made to school officials.
- Board meetings have been increasingly disrupted by vitriolic remarks, spurred by public health measures to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.
- "Leading these schools during a global pandemic is an enormous task, one that is unnecessarily complicated when adult tempers flare,” Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of the AASA, said in a statement.
An education and school board advocacy group penned an open letter to President Biden on Thursday, asking for assistance from the federal government to help mitigate threats of violence against school board members and officials as school systems nationwide negotiate reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Published on Thursday, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) requested assistance from the Biden administration to "investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against public school officials" by enforcing existing laws and mandates, along with the potential formation of specialized task forces equipped to "ensure the safety of our children and educators, to protect interstate commerce, and to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses."
The NSBA represents more than 90,000 school board members nationwide.
This letter comes as dozens of violent or threatening outbursts have occurred at school board meetings, especially regarding the public health measures in place in classrooms, such masks and vaccination mandates.
The NSBA cites more than 20 incidents of threats or harassment during school board meetings targeted at board members.
One specific request from the NSBA is to have law enforcement agencies like the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service, specifically its National Threat Assessment Center, focus their resources on the risk level these threats pose to children, educators and board members.
The NSBA also asks the U.S. Postal Service to inspect any suspicious packages, mail or cyberbullying to targeted groups.
"As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue," the letter reads.
Prior to this letter, other advocacy organizations, including the School Superintendents Association, also highlighted the need for an end to violence occurring during board meetings on safely reopening schools amid the pandemic.
"Leading these schools during a global pandemic is an enormous task, one that is unnecessarily complicated when adult tempers flare," Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of the AASA, said in a statement. "We oppose the increasingly aggressive tactics creeping into board and community meetings, and we cannot let frustrations and tensions evolve into name calling and intimidation."