July 18, 2024

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State school board groups reject NSBA domestic terrorists letter

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School board associations in more than a dozen states oppose a letter about domestic terrorists the National School Board Association recently sent to President Biden, but the Kansas Association of School Boards is not among them.  KASB “takes no position” on the controversy.

The NSBA letter asked the Justice Department to investigate as domestic terrorists vocal parents at school board meetings. It lists 24 examples of emotionally charged school board meetings across the country. It includes the arrest of a father who accused a local school board of covering up the sexual assault of his daughter on school property.

Frank Henderson Jr, a Seaman USD 345 school board member is President-elect on the NSBA board of directors. The Sentinel asked Henderson whether he supported sending the letter to President Biden. He didn’t respond to Sentinel’s request for comment.

Kansas school board member serves on NSBA board

As of October 16, 18 state associations have distanced their organizations from the NSBA letter. That’s according to Parents Defending Education, a national grassroots organization fighting political indoctrination in classrooms. The group compiled a list of the state association responses to the NSBA letter.

Delaware’s association strongly condemned the letter as “unnecessary” and “not helpful.” In a statement, the Delaware School Board Association said it will not be distracted by NSBA’s “departure from proper and prudent boardsmanship.”

“The DSBA disagrees, in the strongest possible terms, with parents and citizens protesting school board meetings being characterized as ‘domestic terrorists’ and their protests being likened to ‘hate crimes,’” DSBA’s letter reads. 

DSBA says its letter “made it clear that any attempt to silence citizens’ voices is a clear violation of their rights to free speech.”

Delaware association calls NSBA letter an ‘attempt to silence citizens’

The NSBA is a national association composed of state board associations across the country, but reaction to its letter to the President suggests its state members are abandoning ship. Alabama threatened it is considering not renewing. Kentucky’s association said it is reevaluating membership next year. The Louisiana and Florida associations said they didn’t pay their dues this year.

“If we are to ever have a strong national federation, it must be one that eschews rhetoric, avoids partisanship, collaborates with its members, and focuses its energies on intentional impact,” a Florida School Board Association letter to NSBA reads. 

NSBA did not consult with its member associations prior to penning the now infamous letter to Biden.

Idaho association wants parents engaged

“Had we been asked, we would have readily pointed out the mischaracterization of parents and patrons in our communities as domestic terrorists who merited federal investigation,” the Idaho School Boards Association executive board said in a statement. “We want parents and patrons engaged in our public schools — we have sought that for years.”

Parents Defending Education requested responses to NSBA’s letter from 47 state associations, including Kansas. However, the Kansas Association of School Boards did not respond.

KASB is an association of local Kansas school boards. Currently, KASB boasts the membership of 285 of Kansas’s 286 public school boards. Member schools use discretionary taxpayer funding to pay dues to the organization.

Kansas ‘takes no position’ on investigating parents as domestic terrorists

KASB’s executive director, Mark Tallman, however, did respond to a Sentinel request for comment. Tallman said NSBA’s letter simply asks how to take action to enforce laws if federal officials find that the acts listed in the letter are deemed acts of terrorism or hate crimes.

“I am not an attorney and KASB has not taken an official position, but my personal opinion is that if laws are being broken, those laws should be enforced so that the governmental process can operate as intended,” Tallman said.

KASB’s website calls NSBA a “venerable association.”

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