In a letter, a group of seven state lawmakers called on the Minnesota School Board Association to end its membership in the national group and refuse to participate in federal investigations into threats against school boards, teachers or administrators .
The push comes after United States Attorney General Merrick Garland this week defended his request to meet with the FBI with local law enforcement to further investigate the “threats, intimidation and harassment” against them. school board members, educators, administrators and others.
The National School Boards Association has urged federal officials to initiate investigations after saying school board officials and school staff across the country face harassment and intimidation over school and education cover-up policies of critical race theory. Lessons around running are generally not part of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum.
In Minnesota, school board debates around critical race theory and mask mandates have led to harassment of board members and instances of physical violence among meeting attendees. And a record number of school board members resigned in 2021 before their terms ended.
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State Senator Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, chairs the Senate Education Committee. He said parents have the right to be concerned about policies implemented and lessons taught in schools. And they should be able to attend school board meetings “without being harassed or intimidated by the Department of Justice.”
“That the national school board organization is involved in this attack on parents is scandalous,” Chamberlain said in a statement. “Unless and until there is a complete overhaul of leadership at the national level, the Minnesota School Board Association must uphold the integrity of its mission by withdrawing its membership in the NSBA. “
The NSBA apologized for the language it used in the letter, but maintained concerns about the safety of school board members, teachers and school staff. School board associations in Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Ohio have dropped their links with the NSBA.
Kirk Schneidawind, executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association, said the group was not involved in drafting the NSBA letter and called for its removal. The association has not discussed its withdrawal from the national group, but plans to discuss it with a conversation about the association’s involvement in potential investigations, he said.
“The MSBA Board of Directors will meet soon to discuss our project or our relationship with the National School Boards Association,” he said.
Schneidawind said school board members reported feeling exhausted after disruptions in or outside of meetings and urged parents and other attendees to be considerate. “I think the appeal of our advice is thisviolence and respect go a long way, ”he said.