Group representing school board members asks Biden for federal help on threats

The issue that appear to have parents, community members and others so upset with school boards is the COVID mask mandates.

Updated: September 30, 2021 - 2:11pm

A group representing school board members across the country is asking the Biden administration for federal assistance in investigating and stopping threats over such contentious policies as COVID-19 mask mandates that have also resulted in contentious public meetings. 

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 President Biden, according to the Associated Press.

"Whatever you feel about masks, it should not reach this level of rhetoric," NSBA interim Executive Director Chip Slaven told the wire service.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday that he wants to hear more about the request for federal investigators and that in the meantime threats should be investigated “thoroughly” at the local level.

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 in which 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, the Associated Press also reports

"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 association wrote.

The letter documents more than 20 instances of threats, harassment, disruption, and acts of intimidation in states including California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and  Ohio.

It also cites the September arrest of an Illinois man for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct for allegedly striking a school official at a meeting.