(The Center Square) – An Iowa affiliate says it wasn’t consulted by the National School Boards Association prior to the NSBA requesting federal intervention in parent-school board conflicts.
The Iowa Association of School Boards notified its members of its disagreement with the NSBA in an October 14 memo.
The IASB said in the memo that it “respectfully disagrees” with the national association’s request for federal law enforcement intervention and “the decision by NSBA leadership to tie the request to claims of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
“NSBA did not consult IASB before it issued its request,” the memo said. “Iowa school boards value and care deeply about parent views on issues affecting children. School boards are providing forums for public opinion, including civil dissent, as part of full and fair deliberation on public issues. Iowans are largely highly civil, even in heated discussions of controversial issues.”
The Iowa association went on to say that local law enforcement has effectively addressed “any isolated criminal threats or incidents, including violations of Iowa Code 718.3 and 718.4 which relate to willful disturbance of public bodies and harassment of public officers and employees.”
The NSBA’s Interim Executive Director and President in a September 29 letter to President Joe Biden asked federal law enforcement to intervene in parent-school board conflicts “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” and to begin “a joint expedited review” of actions to take under laws, including the PATRIOT Act.
“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,” the NSBA’s letter said.
In an Oct. 4 memo, U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered FBI and U.S. attorneys’ office to investigate the “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff” at public schools “in recent months.”
Garland has been criticized for this action. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in a lettercriticizing the National School Boards Association’s letter and asked Garland 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.”
The Iowa association’s government relations staff will monitor federal actions and collaborate with Congressional representatives “to ensure that any federal action protects the rights of Iowa citizens to have a voice in their public schools.” It will also continue communicating with state lawmakers, the memo said.
Executive Director Lisa Bartusek told The Center Square in a phone interview on October 19 that the Iowa association is a “longstanding member” of the National School Boards Association.