The National School Boards Association late Friday apologized to its members for a letter it sent to the Biden administration that compared parents protesting local school policies such as COVID-19 mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory to acts of “domestic terrorism.”
More than 20 state school boards associations moved to distance themselves from the NSBA over the letter, which called for “immediate assistance” from federal law enforcement to help school boards that it said are dealing with a “growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation,” saying such acts could also be considered hate crimes.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland subsequently ordered the FBI to investigate parents protesting at local school board meetings.
“On behalf of NSBA, we regret and apologize for the letter,” the association said in the Friday memo to state affiliates. “There was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance. We apologize also for the strain and stress this situation has caused you and your organizations.”
The Biden administration has faced significant criticism over the Justice Department’s response to the NSBA’s letter, with state governments, school groups and others calling it overreach by the federal government.
“Concerned parents passionate about their kids’ education are not terrorists,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a letter also signed by the attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. “The Biden administration and its special-interest allies need to dial down the rhetoric and respect the rights of parents to be heard.”
The NSBA, in its Sept. 29 letter, asked the Biden administration to “deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation,” without citing any such incidents.
“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 wrote.
In its Friday apology, NSBA acknowledged that parents should have a say in their children’s education.
“As we’ve reiterated since the letter was sent, we deeply value not only the work of local school boards that make important contributions within our communities, but also the voices of parents, who should and must continue to be heard when it comes to decisions about their children’s education, health, and safety,” the apology letter said.