The Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) withdrew from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently after the NSBA sent a letter to President Biden urging him to investigate disgruntled parents who voice frustration with their school board.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland obeyed NSBA’s demands and directed the FBI and U.S. attorneys offices to hold meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement to strategize how they could legally deal with unhappy parents.
In a letter to MSBA members, Executive Director Melissa Randol wrote that the NSBA “has demonstrated it does not currently align with MSBA’s guiding principles of local governance.”
“Attempting to address that issue with federal intervention should not be the first step in most cases, and is antithetical to our longstanding tradition of local control,” Randol’s letter stated. “Further, the use of inflammatory items in the NSBA letter is not a model for promoting greater civility and respect for the democratic process.”
Even though the NSBA issued an apology for the “inflammatory” language and for asking the FBI to investigate unhappy parents, the MSBA doesn’t believe the apology was enough.
“While [the apology] is a step in the right direction, we believe NSBA still has significant work ahead, both implementing processes and procedures to prevent similar problems in the future, as well as repairing their fractured relationships,” the letter read.
NSBA’s initial letter came as a response to parents across the country condemning topics such as Critical Race Theory, gender fluidity and graphic reading materials, among other topics, being implemented into school curricula.
The NSBA and DOJ are using legal tools such as the Patriot Act, which was passed in response to the 9/11 attacks, in their attempt to investigate frustrated parents.
In response to NSBA’s controversial letter, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden sent a letter to the MSBA asking if they agreed with their national counterpart’s assertion and the DOJ’s investigation into displeased parents.
“I want to know if [MSBA] thinks concerned Missouri parents should be charged as ‘domestic terrorists’ like their federal counterpart is pushing for,” Rowden said.
“Do you believe concerned parents in Missouri who are seeking the best education solutions for their kids should be punished with the same tools used to punish the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks, the deadliest act of terrorism ever committed on American soil?” Rowden asked in his letter.
This seemingly prompted a response from the Missouri School Boards’ Association as they announced their withdrawal from the NSBA only a few weeks later.
“I think this is the beginning of a movement back towards parents being the most powerful ‘special interest’ in the education of their kids,” Rowden told The Heartlander in response to MSBA’s withdrawal. “I think that is a great thing!”
Although the NSBA apologized for the letter, they still haven’t rescinded their request to have parents investigated by the DOJ. The national organization can expect continued criticism as more state school boards associations are disassociating from the NSBA.
“We appreciate MSBA standing up for our students, teachers, and parents alike and recognizing that Missouri will play no part in criminalizing concerned parents,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “This action shows Missouri schools take parents’ First Amendment rights seriously and will protect Missourians’ abilities to speak freely and petition their local school boards.”