The National School Boards Association has lost its first state affiliate for asking the Justice Department to investigate some criticism of school boards on hot-button issues as "domestic terrorism."
In an internal memo leaked Thursday night, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association said its governing board had voted unanimously to leave NSBA.
PSBA distanced itself from the national organization's letter earlier in the week, saying it wasn't consulted about the national letter and it has "always encouraged local school boards to welcome input and remarks from community members and all stakeholders."
D.C.-area advocacy group Parents Defending Education said Thursday that 16 state school board associations had "distanced themselves" from the national letter. It had asked them whether they were involved in the national letter or agree with its thrust, and whether they plan to report critics to the Justice Department, and reprinted their responses.
Among them were Democrat-run states including Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.
The PSBA memo said the national letter was the "final straw" after years of discussions about what value NSBA membership brought to the state's school boards.
Rendering parents as domestic terrorists, as the NSBA letter was widely perceived, has "made our work ... more difficult" and "fomented more disputes and cast partisanship on our work on behalf of school directors," PSBA wrote. "Now is not the time for more politics and posturing."
The state affiliate emphasized it "abhors" the threats and violence against some school boards, whose meetings must be "the model of democracy in action," but "a call for federal intervention is not the place to begin" in returning civility to the process.
PSBA has "struggle[d] ... to identify a reason" to stay in the federation as NSBA's disinterest in "bipartisanship, civility and seeking solutions" to its internal problems, such as pension issues and "never-ending disagreement on a governance model," has grown more pronounced.
It plans to keep working with remaining members of the federation, the memo said. PSBA has yet to publicly acknowledge the memo.