School Board Group Compares Threats Over COVID Protocols to Terrorism in Letter to Biden

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) on Thursday asked the federal government to help stop school board threats, calling them a form of domestic terrorism, due to disputes over COVID-19 policies in a letter to President Joe Biden, the Associated Press reported.

Parents and community members have been threatening board members in person, online and through the mail in a trend that merits attention from federal law enforcement agencies, the NSBA said in the letter.

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

The letter documents a September arrest of an Illinois man for alleged aggravated battery and disorderly conduct for allegedly striking a school official at a meeting. And it also mentions a man in Michigan who allegedly performed a Nazi salute to protest masking.

"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.

For more reporting by the Associated Press, see below.

School group hold signs against mask mandate
The National School Boards Association asked the federal government to help stop school board threats, calling them a form of domestic terrorism, due to disputes over COVID-19 policies. Above, people hold signs against a mask mandate during a North Allegheny School District school board meeting in Pennsylvania. Alexandra Wimley/AP

"Whatever you feel about masks, it should not reach this level of rhetoric," NSBA Interim Executive Director Chip Slaven told AP.

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.

The association represents more than 90,000 school board members in 14,000 public school districts.

"We are coming after you," a letter mailed to an Ohio school board member said, according to the group. "You are forcing them to wear mask—for no reason in this world other than control. And for that you will pay dearly."

It called the member "a filthy traitor."

The threats have gone beyond board meetings and letters.

The father of an Arizona elementary school student was arrested after he and two other men brought zip ties to the campus, threatening to make a "citizen's arrest" on the school principal over a COVID-19 quarantine.

School board members are largely unpaid volunteers, traditionally former educators and parents who step forward to shape school policy, choose a superintendent and review the budget. The current climate has led a growing number to resign or decide against seeking reelection.