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The NSBA's Letter For Federal Assistance (& my response)

On September 29, 2021 the National School Boards Association released a letter directed to President Biden requesting "Federal Assistance to Stop Threats and Acts of Violence Against Public Schoolchildren, Public School Board Members, and Other Public School District Officials and Educators." The following is the letter with my comments inserted along the way.

Re: Federal Assistance to Stop Threats and Acts of Violence Against Public Schoolchildren, Public School Board Members, and Other Public School District Officials and Educators 

Dear Mr. President: 

America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat. The National School Boards Association (NSBA) respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation. 

There are already state criminal laws and agencies which deal with threats of violence. 

Local school board members want to hear from their communities on important issues and that must be at the forefront of good school board governance and promotion of free speech. However, there also must be safeguards in place to protect public schools and dedicated education leaders as they do their jobs.

NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety. 

How is this affecting interstate commerce? It clearly isn't. Though I'm not a legal expert this seems to be nothing more than an allusion for the Biden administration to use the commerce clause to assert federal authority in a state matter.

As our school boards continue coronavirus recovery operations within their respective districts, they are also persevering against other challenges that could impede this progress in a number of communities. Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula.1 

Footnote 1 refers to the document "ACLED Fact Sheet: Demonstrations over Critical Race Theory in the United States." This document largely provides a brief summary of the pro CRT and anti CRT positions, in what states demonstrations are occurring, and what proportion of these demonstrations are Pro-CRT vs. Anti-CRT. The document doesn't provide evidence of attacks or threats of harm directed against school board members and educators. Thus, the citation does not in anyway support the statement which precedes it. 

This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class. 

This is obviously complete rubbish. There are a number of popular, non academic books which utilize aspects of critical race theory. Many, such as "White Fragility" and "How To Be An Antiracist" were New York Times best sellers. Kendi even wrote a children's book called "Antiracist Baby." Clearly this isn't a subject restricted to law and graduate students. Additionally, many teachers and education groups have overtly pushed for CRT based ideas to be taught in schools. Just a few months ago the largest teachers union in the country was pushing for a plan to increase CRT in K-12 curricula. I don't believe it takes much effort to disprove this statement but regardless, I want to point out that the letter provides to support for this assertion. 

On behalf of our state associations and the more than 90,000 school board members who govern our country’s 14,000 local public school districts educating more than 50 million schoolchildren, NSBA appreciates your leadership to end the proliferation of COVID-19 in our communities and our school districts. We also appreciate recent discussions with White House and U.S. Department of Education staff on many critical issues facing public schools, including threats school officials are receiving. 

In addition, we applaud your actions to restore resources to school districts that have not yet received their education stabilization funding through the Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators) grant program for coronavirus recovery efforts, including the use of face masks and other precautions to help prevent COVID-19 infections among students and educators. Now, we ask that the federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority, interagency and intergovernmental task forces, and other extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our children and educators, to protect interstate commerce, and to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses. 

Again it appears they are trying to use interstate commerce as a way to assert federal authority. Also notice the constant reference to protecting children, as if angry parents are going to school board meetings and threatening students

While local and state law enforcement agencies are working with public school officials in several communities to prevent further disruptions to educational services and school district operations, law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions need assistance – including help with monitoring the threat levels. As these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent – during public school board meetings, via documented threats transmitted through the U.S. Postal Service, through social media and other online platforms, and around personal properties – NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.2  

The footnote refers to a news article which reports that a group called Unmask Our Kids held a demonstration during a school board meeting. The disruptions caused by the group included banging on windows and yelling obscenities' such as "You f***ing cowards," and "Get back here and do your f***ing job." One man, grasping a U.S. flag on a flagpole walks quickly to the dais to confront board members, followed by Marysville police officers who step between the man and board members. “Yeah, run away,” taunts a protester, as board members file out of the room. “Go lick Inslee’s boot,” says one.  While the group was certainly unruly, it was not reported that they acted violently or directed threats of violence toward school officials. Also, no reports of law enforcement needing assistance. Again, the citation does not support the assertions made.

NSBA specifically solicits the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center 3 regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses. We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators. 

By all means, investigate and prosecute actual violence and actual threats of violence. But so far no evidence has been provided that actual violence or threats of violence have occurred. Certainly there has been no evidence that state and local law enforcement agencies have been overwhelmed.

Note: Footnote 3 refers to a Secrete Service analysis on averting targeted school violence. Skimming through the 54 page report, it seems to be a guide on how to identify and avert students and former students from carrying out violent attacks at their schools. It has nothing to do with parents protesting at school board meetings. 

As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. As such, NSBA requests a joint expedited review by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the appropriate training, coordination, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms from the FBI, including any technical assistance necessary from, and state and local coordination with, its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division, as well as any other federal agency with relevant jurisdictional authority and oversight. Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure. 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. 

And now we get to the heart of it. The NSBA want's to characterize parents that push back against mask mandates and the teaching of leftist ideologies as akin to extremist hate groups and domestic terrorist. If this doesn't scream leftist authoritarianism I don't know what does. 

These threats or actual acts of violence against our school districts are impacting the delivery of educational services to students and families, as many districts receive federal funds and subsidies for services to millions of students with disabilities, health screenings and supplemental supports for disadvantaged students, child nutrition, broadband connectivity, educator development, school safety activities, career and technical education, and more.  School board meetings have been disrupted in California4 , Florida 5, Georgia6 , and other states7 because of local directives for mask coverings to protect students and educators from COVID-19. 

The paragraph starts out referring to "threats or actual acts of violence", then towards the end refers to school board meetings having been disrupted in California, Florida, Georgia and other states. It's written to lead the reader into believing these disruptions involve "threats or actual acts of violence" but the stories cited don't support this. 

Footnote 4 refers to a story where a Californian group calling themselves "Let Them Breathe" caused a disruption at a school board meeting when they forced their way inside and were verbally abusive to staff. The meeting was adjourned due to the disruption.  No one was arrested. 

Footnote 5 refers to a Florida school board which proposed changes to the public comment portion of school board meetings. The changes were proposed after several meetings over the past year included hours of public comment and squabbling. The changes would lower speaker time when more speakers show up. No reporting on "threats or actual  acts of violence."

Footnote 6 refers to a Georgia story about 100 people that attended a school board meeting that refused to wear masks and refused to leave. There was shouting and arguing but no "threats or actual acts of violence" reported. 

Footnote 7 references three stories. The first is a story about a Nevada school board meeting where audience members were shouting and disruptive. "More than 10 people who disrupted the meeting were told to leave and did, or were escorted out of the room by police, including one attendee who was handcuffed". Again, no "threats or actual acts of violence" reported. 

The second story is a bit of a jumbled mess. It refers to threatening social media posts directed toward at least four schools. No mention what the threats were. The story states that a day prior a 15-year-old student allegedly shot and injured two other 17-year-old students. From what I can tell, theses stories have nothing to do with parents addressing school board members and officials. 

The final footnote 7 story is about North Carolina governor addressing threats, bullying and intimidation at school board meetings over mask requirements. This was more of a, everyone should behave themselves and set a good example for our kids, kind of thing. No real "threats or actual acts of violence" reported. 

An individual was arrested in Illinois for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct during a school board meeting.8 

This is the first story which refers to a person being arrested for an actual (though tepid) act of violence. "Sheriff Wagner stated school officials attempted to escort Felde out of the meeting when he struck one of them before leaving the school. Deputies located Felde a short time later at his home where they said he was taken into custody." 

During two separate school board meetings in Michigan9 , an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory. 

Footnote 9 links to two articles. The first states that "Police are investigating a man who flashed a Nazi salute and chanted “Heil Hitler” during a raucous Birmingham Board of Education meeting over a mask mandate for students." The second article states that Grand Ledge school board had to go into recess twice during the meeting. Once because someone went over their 3-minute time limit during public comment, and refused to sit down. The second time was after public comment, when two board members were speaking to one another and the audience kept interrupting. Hence, the footnote supports that an individual yelled a Nazi salute at one meeting but not two. No threats or acts of violence.

In New Jersey10, Ohio11, and other states12, anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings. 

Footnote 10, a New Jersey school board postponed a meeting after attendees refused to wear masks and another cut short public comment after yelling and name-calling disrupted a mask discussion.

Footnote 11, at Ohio school board meeting, Sheriff deputies were called after a group of anti-mask protestors refused to wear masks indoors conflicting with the district mask policy. “I asked them numerous times to please put on a mask because it is our board policy they just sat there where they argued or yelled,” said school board president Chad Lahrmer. 

Footnote 12 refers to a Pennsylvania (not many other states as the letter implies) school board meeting where a group of parents filled the room without wearing masks, which resulted in the board shifting to a fully virtual meeting. 

In Virginia13, an individual was arrested, another man was ticketed for trespassing, and a third person was hurt during a school board meeting discussion distinguishing current curricula from critical race theory and regarding equity issues. 

Two articles under Footnote 13. The second really doesn't relate to the text it's supposed to support. It refers to a story in which a Spotsylvania County School Board was disrupted over mask mandates. 

The first story refers to a Loudoun County School Board Meeting discussing proposed policy 8040 which would allow transgender and gender-expansive students to use names and pronouns outside their legal names "regardless of the name and gender recorded in the student's permanent educational record," To participate in activities such as sports "in a manner consistent with the student's gender identity," and to use bathrooms and Locke rooms based on their gender identity. During the meeting, "one man was arrested, another man was ticketed and a third person was hurt at a chaotic public meeting." No details on the injured man other than it was minor. The ticketed man was received a summons for trespassing after refusing to leave after school officials asked him to. The man that was arrested was Scott T. Smith, 48, of Leesburg. He was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. Per the article " The sheriff’s office says he physically threatened someone and then “continued to be disorderly with the deputy” and resisted arrest. He was released. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had a lawyer." But the article leaves out some extremely important details. Namely that Smith was there to address the school board because weeks prior on "May 28, a boy allegedly wearing a skirt entered a girls’ bathroom at nearby Stone Bridge High School, where he sexually assaulted Smith’s ninth-grade daughter. Juvenile records are sealed, but Smith’s attorney Elizabeth Lancaster told The Daily Wire that a boy was charged with two counts of forcible sodomy – one count of anal sodomy and one count of forcible fellatio – related to an incident that day at that school." (Daily Wire)

"Minutes before Smith’s arrest, the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent lectured the public that concerns about the transgender policy were misplaced because the school system had no record of any assault occurring in any school bathroom. Then a woman wearing a rainbow heart shirt – a left-wing community activist – told Smith she did not believe his daughter, he says. His rage reached a boil and he had a heated exchange of words with the woman. A police officer, there to keep the peace in the meeting, pulled on his arm. Smith yanked it away. Before he knew it, Smith says, he was hit in the face, handcuffed, and dragged across the floor, with his pants pulled down. Images of the incident were splashed on televisions and newspapers across the world." (Daily Wire)

Note: It has now been revealed that the superintendent lied when he said there was no record of any assault occurring in any school bathroom. The Superintendent confirmed that he sent a letter to the school board regarding the attack on May 28, the same day the incident occurred. (Fox 5)

Sadly, the "boy in a skirt" that raped Smith's daughter was transferred to another school where, on October 6, the 15 year old was charged with sexual battery and abduction after police said he forced a girl into an empty classroom, held her against her will, and touched her inappropriately. (Daily Wire) The assailant has since been found guilty for both crimes. (RT)


In other states including Washington14, Texas15 , Wisconsin16, Wyoming17, and Tennessee18, school boards have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly. 

Footnote 14 refers to a school board meeting in Washington where the board cleared the room due to audience members shouting. No threats or acts of violence reported

Footnote 15 refers to a school board meeting in Texas where pro CRT and anti CRT members of the audience expressed their views. No threats or acts of violence reported.

Footnote 16 refers to a Wisconsin school board meeting that was postponed due to about 20-30 angry protesters who entered the meeting and refused to put on face masks. An argument soon broke out between those in the audience, which included people on both sides of the mask policy. No threats or acts of violence reported. 

Footnote 17 refers to a Wyoming school board meeting where the Trustees shut down public comment early after a resident began yelling. No threats or acts of violence reported.

Footnote 18 refers to a Tennessee man that was harassed by anti-mask protestors after leaving a school board meeting. The article links to another article which shows the actual video. The threatening aspect of the video shows a couple of guys shouting at the man "we know who you are" as he gets in his car and leaves. This appears to be the most threatening incident cited. 

A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as "vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.19

Footnote 19 refers to a story where some group of idiots went around to pharmacies in Missouri to inform those administering COVID-19 vaccines that they were committing a “crime against humanity.” No mention of them filming themselves while calling school administrators. 

Other groups are posting watchlists against school boards and spreading misinformation that boards are adopting critical race theory curriculum and working to maintain online learning by haphazardly attributing it to COVID-19.20 

Footnote 20 refers to an article regarding a database of school board members by Turning Point USA called School Board Watchlist. The existence of the database in no way supports the argument by the NSBA that the federal government should consider angry parents at school board members something akin to domestic terrorist or hate group members. 

In Ohio, an individual mailed a letter to a school board member labeling the return address on the envelope from a local neighborhood association and then enclosing threatening hate mail from another entity.21 This correspondence states that, “We are coming after you and all the members on the … BoE [Board of Education].” This hate mail continues by stating, “You are forcing them to wear mask—for no reason in this world other than control. And for that you will pay dearly.” Among other incendiaries, this same threat also calls the school board member a “filthy traitor,” implies loss of pension funds, and labels the school board as Marxist. 

This is a somewhat accurate reflection of the news article referenced in footnote 21. The letter clearly uses threatening language but also ambiguous language. It does state "We are coming after you" and "you will pay dearly" but how exactly. Perhaps we find the answer further down where it states "We will come to the board meetings-we will demand to see and be a part of every meeting. We want to be a part of selecting the curriculum for our children. We will protest in front of your homes day and night-We demand transparency in the classrooms. We will run citizens who love America against all of you when your term is up." If these are the acts they are threatening to carry out, then it certainly reframes "We are coming for you" to something far less threatening. Personally, I do not agree with the language used in the letter. Though no threat to harm is stated, it still leaves the impression that it might be a veiled threat. Regardless, I doubt a crime was committed here, and it certainly isn't something that supports the ridiculous hyperbolic response from the federal government requested from the NSBA. 

Earlier this month, a student in Tennessee was mocked during a board meeting for advocating masks in schools after testifying that his grandmother, who was an educator, died because of COVID-19. 22

Footnote 22 refers to a story about a high school student addressing a school board in Tennessee during a meeting regarding mask mandates. While at the podium he stated that his grandmother "died of Covid because someone wasn't wearing a mask." This invoked a mild response from the audience of mummers and someone saying "no." Someone is heard shouting "shut up" but it's unclear whether it was directed at the student or others in the audience. The article highlights that a woman behind the student smirked and shook her head no. The article includes a video of the incident which you should watch as it shows how tepid and really un-newsworthy the whole thing was. Again, no threats or acts of violence. 

These threats and acts of violence are affecting our nation’s democracy at the very foundational levels, causing school board members – many who are not paid – to resign immediately and/or discontinue their service after their respective terms.23 

Footnote 23 refers to a story where Tennessee school board member Jon White resigned. As for the reason for his resignation, the story states "White cited concerns about too much time away from his family." Nothing mentioned about any threats or acts of violence causing him to resign. 

Further, this increasing violence is a clear and present danger to civic participation, in which other citizens who have been contemplating service as either an elected or appointed school board member have reconsidered their decision.  NSBA believes public discussions and transparency by local school board members are important for the safe and effective operations of schools.24 

Footnote 24 refers to a joint letter by the National School Board Association and the School Superintendents Association. Though it addresses some of the same points as this letter, its narrative is far less deluded and it doesn't call for authoritarian actions. 

It is vital that public discourses be encouraged in a safe and open environment, in which varying viewpoints can be offered in a peaceful manner. Our children are watching the examples of the current debates and we must encourage a positive dialogue even with different opinions. However, with such acute threats and actions that are disruptive to our students’ well-being, to the safety of public school officials and personnel, and to interstate commerce, we urge the federal government’s intervention against individuals or hate groups who are targeting our schools and educator

So for all the hyperbolic talk about threats and violence and all the professionally presented citations, at the end of the day the most egregious incidents they could point to are a guy striking a school official while being escorted out of a school board meeting, a mildly threatening letter and a couple of guys shouting "we know who you are" at a pro-mask parent.  That's it. 

It's impossible to objectively look at this situation and conclude that the NSBA was acting in good faith. It's apparent they were attempting to weaponize the Justice Department against parents that pushed back against their agenda. 

It took less than a week for Attorney General Merrick Garland to respond, stating in a memo "In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools...In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel." (Copy of Memo)

So is the Justice Department aware of criminal conduct perpetrated against school board members and other officials which wasn't mentioned in the NSBA letter? Nope. Per a recent House Judiciary hearing “When did you first review the data showing this so-called disturbing uptick?” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan asked during a House Judiciary hearing. “I read the letter, and we have been seeing over time—” Garland began before Jordan interrupted him.

“So you read the letter? That’s your source?” Jordan asked incredulously. “Is there some study, some effort, some investigation someone did that, said there’s been a disturbing uptick, or you just take the words of the National School Board Association?”

Garland then confirmed it wasn’t until NSBA contacted him that his department began to investigate claims of violence and terrorism.

“Well, the National School Board Association, which represents thousands of school boards and school board members, says that there are these kinds of threats. When we read in the newspapers reports of threats of violence—” Garland said before Jordan interjected again.

“The source for this … was the National School Boards Association letter,” Jordan reiterated before his time expired.
(The Federalist)


Here's an archived copy of the letter since the actual letter has been removed.


Misc
White House Knew About Letter That Compared Parents to Domestic TerroristsMerrick Garland Abuses His Authority To Suppress Dissent

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