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National School Boards Association retracts letter after backlash

Parents continue to push back against school boards

A Portland Public Schools board meeting to discuss a proposed vaccine mandate for students on Tuesday in Portland, Ore. Getty Images/Photo by Nathan Howard

National School Boards Association retracts letter after backlash

On Friday, the National School Boards Association issued an apology to its member organizations for a September letter to President Joe Biden that likened angry parents to domestic terrorists. But many say the gesture isn’t enough.

The NSBA had asked Biden to mobilize federal agencies to respond to threats against schools and school boards around the country. Days later, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo directing the FBI to coordinate with local law enforcement on how to respond to threats.

According to the advocacy group Parents Defending Education, at least 21 states “distanced themselves” from the national group’s letter. School board associations in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Ohio, and Missouri withdrew from the NSBA.

Last week, the American Freedom Law Center filed a lawsuit against Garland on behalf of parents in Virginia and Michigan. The lawsuit asks for an injunction against Garland’s directive, calling it “government-sanctioned discrimination and censorship of free speech.”

Parents Defending Education released NSBA internal communications obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Emails show several members on the NSBA board of directors were not consulted about the letter before it was made public, and some disagreed with its tone and wording. Other emails reference “talks” with the White House over the course of “several weeks,” raising questions about what information was shared privately before the letter was publicly addressed to the president.

“Rather than helping our cause and calming the waters, this letter has re-awakened hostilities that were just beginning to finally calm down,” board member John Halkias wrote in one of the released emails.

After the NSBA issued its apology, 19 House Republicans petitioned Garland to cancel his memo. U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted a call for Garland’s resignation: “It was a dangerous abuse of authority that has badly compromised the Justice Dept’s integrity and Garland’s.”

Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily told Fox News the NSBA should apologize to parents, too. “I think what this shows is that a $19 million trade association with direct links to the White House is no match for a group of mad moms,” she said.

On Thursday, Garland defended his memo before the House Judiciary Committee.

Lauren Dunn

Lauren is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and an intern with WORLD Digital.


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It would be interesting to report on who the National School Boards Association is. It always sounds like it represents all school boards. Who are they, how many school boards do they represent, are their other school board associations...what is their ideology. Appreciate your reporting.