Respect Equality

School board begs governor for protection from ‘onslaught’ of hostile protesters

california school board association protestors threats violence gavin newsom letter

Story at a glance

  • The California School Boards Association wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) asking for state support in combating threats of violence stemming from pandemic safety in schools.
  • On Thursday, the National School Boards Association wrote a similar letter to President Biden.

The organization representing all school boards in the state of California penned an open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), asking for state assistance in protecting educators and students from disgruntled citizens.

As schools work to reopen safely amid the pandemic, more citizens and residents have come to public school board meetings to express their frustration or criticism over public health policies, namely mask mandates for students and COVID-19 health measures.

Some of these incidents have resulted in threats of violence or various slurs.

The California School Boards Association (CSBA) has experienced some vitriolic remarks from members of the public, according to the letter, and are requesting additional law enforcement support to protect school board members.

“The hostile climate at local board meetings and the reluctance of select law enforcement agencies to fulfill their duties have placed school trustees in unprecedented danger,” Vernon Billy, the CEO and executive director of the CSBA wrote to Newsom. “I trust the state will not wait to act until a trustee or member of the public sustains a serious injury or worse at a school board meeting.”

Billy cited issues in San Diego County specifically, where protesters forced their way into a board meeting and refused to social distance or don masks. He added that it is “doubtful” that a single county in California hasn’t experienced a similar outburst.

“I’ve watched in horror as school board members have been accosted, verbally abused, physically assaulted, and subjected to death threats against themselves and their family members,” Billy said.

“Nothing in recent memory could have prepared trustees for the onslaught they face today,” Billy added.

This letter comes just after the National School Boards Association issued a similar letter to President Biden asking for federal aid across all school districts in the country to protect board members from potentially violent incidents after threats during meetings.