TRENTON, N.J. – A National School Boards Association letter equating parents speaking out against school district policies to domestic terrorism was followed by a subsequent apology to the board’s member organizations last week. Assemblyman Erik Peterson says the board’s response is self-serving as it has already had its effect of intimidating parents from exercising their civil rights to speak out against decisions that affect their children.
“Parents are advocating for their children and the National School Boards Association wants to silence them,” said Peterson (R-Hunterdon). “The board’s leadership has proven that they are not interested in advancing our children’s education, but want to indoctrinate our kids and they will go to any lengths to usurp parents’ right to determine what is in their child’s best interest. In order to preserve and protect every parent’s civil right to petition their government, the freedom of speech and the parental right to be involved in their child’s education, I am calling for everyone involved in this tyranny to resign.”
The Sept. 29 letter from the board to President Joe Biden states that certain “actions [at public school board meetings] could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” They also requested the administration “examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence” under current laws. One of the examples of such so-called heinous actions included “anti-mask proponents inciting chaos” during board meetings in New Jersey.
“Public school board meetings give parents a platform to voice their concerns to the decision makers. We want parents to be involved in their kids’ lives including while at school. Only a tyrant would have a problem with parents passionately advocating for policies that impact their child’s health, safety and education,” Peterson explained. “The National School Boards Association’s position opposing legitimate and warranted discussions is a threat to democracy and transparency. Punishing people just because they disagree with you is un-American and the fact that President Biden did not find the National School Boards’ request absurd is even more troubling.”
The letter, signed by Board President Viola M. Garcia and Interim Executive Director and CEO Chip Slaven, prompted U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to order the FBI to investigate a spike in threats to school officials from parents. Garland distanced himself from the board’s rhetoric during a House Judiciary Committee on Thursday and maintained that the Justice Department would not investigate vocal critics of school policies.
The National School Boards Association represents more than 90,000 school board members across the country’s 14,000 local public school districts.