News & Politics

Local School Boards Push Back Against National Organization's Letter to Biden

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Several local school boards across the country are angry at their national organization’s September 29 letter to the president about public school officials “facing physical threats” from parents and are declining federal law-enforcement assistance offered by the Department of Justice.

School boards in Virginia and Louisiana separately sent letters to the president acknowledging the threats but claimed that local law enforcement was capable of handling the situation. The Pennsylvania state school board also sent a letter outlining their objections.

What really got these individual state school boards upset was that the National School Boards Association never consulted them before sending the letter to Biden.

Delaware Valley Journal:

“The Pennsylvania School Boards Association was not consulted prior to the letter being sent by the National School Boards Association to President Biden,” said Annette Stevenson, chief communications officer. “We were not asked for input nor discussion on its content.”

“PSBA has always encouraged local school boards to welcome input and remarks from community members and all stakeholders, and Pennsylvania has a long history of relying on local school district control to ensure that the will of the community and parents is best represented,” Stevenson said. “PSBA is strongly averse to the lack of civility and violence being witnessed in some districts, and we support that local districts need to be able to work with their local and regional law enforcement to address such safety concerns.”

Yes, but how intimidating would local police be in stifling dissent? Biden wants the threat of federal agents investigating parents to close down debate and keep the parents in line.

Related: The State Does Not Own Your Children

But the president and his NASB allies may have stirred up a hornet’s nest — not just from parents but from other local school boards that aren’t taking kindly to the national office running roughshod over their prerogatives.

Washington Examiner:

“There are times when discourse may be challenging to navigate but open discourse is a necessary course to chart in public service. However, threats are never an appropriate response,” the LSBA wrote .

The VSBA fully declined aid from federal law enforcement, saying, “While we look for support to our state and federal governments, we do not seek the involvement of federal law enforcement or other officials in local decisions.”

A retired math teacher who’s running for a seat on the local school board thinks this is more evidence of the slide into authoritarianism.

“This is constant with our transformation from a constitutional republic to a totalitarian one-party state.  The Democratic Party is under the control of people with an agenda that includes the transformation of America into a highly regulated country in which all aspects of our society come under central government regulation and opposition speech is punished,” said Goldman. “We must not focus only on the micro specific incidents, such as punishing parents who object to government policy, and we must acknowledge the macro transformation that is happening.”

And some local law enforcement officials are 100 percent opposed to any federal interference.

When asked about whether it was appropriate for the Department of Justice to prosecute individuals in Bucks County school districts, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said, “Absolutely not. There’s no need for it. There’s no place for, it will have a chilling effect on our First Amendment right to free speech. I don’t want you to conflate what I’m saying though…if somebody is going to overtly threaten another person, whether it’s on the internet or live at a school board in anger, they will be held accountable. But if they’re merely expressing their anger or their displeasure at their quality of education or the manner in which that education is provided, they have a right to be heard. And I will steadfastly uphold that right under the First Amendment.”

What’s truly remarkable about this pushback is that no one believes the federal government has any business policing local school board matters. Any threats — and there apparently have been several — can and should be handled by local law enforcement. What many are objecting to is the Biden administration’s apparent conflation of angry free speech with “terrorist threats.”

And what’s really chilling is them trying to connect the two is fully deliberate.