School board group asks US for help policing threats
A group representing school board members around the country asked President Joe Biden on Thursday for federal assistance to investigate and stop threats made over policies including mask mandates, likening the vitriol to a form of domestic terrorism.
Parents and community members have been disrupting meetings and threatening board members in person, online and through the mail in a trend that merits attention from federal law enforcement agencies, the National School Boards Association said in a letter to Biden.
“Whatever you feel about masks, it should not reach this level of rhetoric,” NSBA Interim Executive Director Chip Slaven told The Associated Press by phone.
School boards around the country have been disrupted by unruly attendees out to interfere with business and silence other viewpoints.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said as he left a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday that he wants to hear more about the request for federal investigators to handle threats, noting that his department works with the school boards group and needs to “listen closely” to its concerns.
In the meantime, “at the local level, any threats should be investigated thoroughly,” Cardona added.
Threats toward school board members typically are handled by local law enforcement. But the association asked for the federal government to get involved to investigate cases where threats or violence could be handled as violations of federal laws protecting civil rights. It also asked for the Justice Department, FBI, Homeland Security and Secret Service to help monitor threat levels and assess risks to students, educators, board members and school buildings.
“As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions...