Ohio school board chapter leaves national association over 'violence' letter to Biden

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The Ohio School Boards Association announced Wednesday that it will end its affiliation with the National School Boards Association, citing the NSBA‘s letter to President Biden seeking federal intervention in fierce debates raging in school boards across the country.

In a letter to NSBA interim Executive Director and CEO and President Viola Garcia, OSBA President Robert Heard Sr. and Chief Executive Officer Richard C. Lewis said they were not consulted on the NSBA‘s letter to Mr. Biden and “strongly disagreed” with the content.

OSBA‘s decision to terminate membership and affiliation with the NSBA Association is a direct result of the letter sent by you to President Joe Biden late last month,” the OSBA officials wrote.

Late last month, the Alexandria, Va.-based NSBA sent a letter to President Biden asking for federal authorities to investigate and monitor the violence and threats they said local school board members were facing from parents who expressed concern over COVID-19 protocols and critical race theory curriculum.

The NSBA asked the federal government to “examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence” under the Patriot Act regarding domestic terrorism and other federal laws.

In response, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued a memorandum citing a “disturbing spike” in “threats of violence” against school officials, and directed federal law enforcement officials to discuss strategies “for addressing threats against” local school boards and administrators, and to “open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response.”

Mr. Garland’s memo received swift pushback from GOP lawmakers, who said the memo represented a concerning overreach against U.S. citizens exercising free speech.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote the attorney general saying that they are concerned about the “appearance” of the Justice Department “policing the speech of citizens and concerned parents.”

“We urge you to make very clear to the American public that the Department of Justice will not interfere with the rights of parents to come before school boards and speak with educators about their concerns, whether regarding coronavirus-related measures, the teaching of critical race theory in schools, sexually explicit books in schools, or any other topic,” the senators wrote.

They went on to assert that it is inappropriate to use the Patriot Act or any other federal powers “to quash those who question local school boards.”

The Washington Times has reached out to the national association for comment on the Ohio chapter’s withdrawal.

Several state affiliates have already distanced themselves from the NSBA‘s letter amid the fallout, with many claiming they were not consulted.

“The letter purported to be sent on behalf of state associations and school board members across the nation,” wrote the heads of the Ohio association. “This assertion could not be further from the truth. OSBA was not notified of the letter, nor were we asked for our thoughts on the matter.”

“If we had been consulted, we would have strongly disagreed with NSBA‘s decision to request federal intervention, as well as your claims of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” they said.

Last week the NSBA walked back its letter to President Biden, stating that there was “no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

But the group remains in damage control despite their apology.

“The NSBA letter demonstrated just how out of touch the national association is with the concerns of local school boards and the principle of local control,” Mr. Heard and Mr. Lewis wrote. “OSBA can no longer allow NSBA to speak for our association or our membership and no longer sees the value of continued membership.”

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