State school board associations continue to distance themselves or flee the National School Boards Association (NSBA), with South Carolina now the latest state to completely withdraw its membership. A Nov. 5 vote by the South Carolina School Board Association (SCSBA) reveals that not only did the SCSBA elect to withdraw, but the board also requested a refund of SCSBA’s 2021-2022 NSBA membership dues.
"The Board voted to withdraw SCSBA's membership from NSBA effective immediately and request a refund of SCSBA's 2021-2022 membership dues." pic.twitter.com/mEVRLaZqr7
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) November 8, 2021
The withdrawal means that 23 states have now distanced themselves from the NSBA, and seven have discontinued membership altogether. Corey A. DeAngelis, Ph.D., National Director of Research for The American Federation for Children, has been keeping track:
The Sept. 29 NSBA letter precipitated a response in the form of a memorandum from AG Garland. Garland’s memo, in turn, caused a firestorm of protests from parents all over the country who resented being represented as “domestic terrorists” for advocating for their children at their local school board meetings.
Coincidentally, “just two days later, NSBA President Viola Garcia began her tenure on the National Assessment Governing Board.” The Federalist reports the position to be “a pivotal position within the education bureaucracy as the board decides which questions are asked on Nation’s Report Card assessment tests, which help determine federal education policies.”
“Garcia was one of five board members appointed by Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, as The Washington Free Beacon first reported. Biden’s Department of Education kept these appointments hush-hush for nearly two weeks until it finally sent out a press release announcing the appointees on Oct. 13.”
Parents Defending Education subsequently filed FOIA requests for the NSBA communications to investigate the rationale for the inflammatory NSBA letter. The Parents Defending Education website features reports of “indoctrination” in schools shown on a map. Parent/activists launched the website in the spring of 2021 after receiving “scores of reports from distressed parents, students, teachers, grandparents, principals.”
On Oct. 11, activists from DefendingEd.org, “emailed 47 state school board associations for comment on the NSBA’s Sept. 29 letter (Hawaii and Washington DC are not members of NSBA, and Virginia & Louisiana had already made public statements).” The FOIA requested “emails, text messages, and instant messages between Sept. 1 and Oct. 11, 2021” pertaining to the Sept. 29 NSBA letter.
The screencap below shows the questions asked of the 47 state school board associations by the Parents Defending Education organization.
The state board responses to the NSBA letter can be found here.
The public records requests allegedly confirmed coordination between the White House and certain members of the NSBA. The email communications indicate that not all members of the NSBA were informed of the White House coordination or the final NSBA letter before it was sent out. Erika Sanzi, Director of Outreach for Parents Defending Educations, writes:
“Not only were the NSBA board members left out of the loop, but they were then forced to answer for the letter that they did not know about, did not approve, and don’t even agree with on the merits.”
It remains unclear whether the communications between the White House and members of NSBA were the impetus behind the DOJ memorandum.
The NSBA subsequently sent out an apology letter on Oct. 22. However, the apology felt hollow to the many parents who were offended by the original NSBA letter. Moreover, there is no guarantee the apology letter would do anything substantive to stop the DOJ from tracking the activity of parents.
OCT 22- NSBA LETTER 2 their members: “We regret & apologize 4 the letter" to Biden admin characterizing protesting parents as a "domestic terrorists."
Interesting, we the parents & citizens didn’t get an apology letter.
Translation: sorry our coms were sloppy & we got caught. pic.twitter.com/zZYN8HurAd
— JenShowalter4PBSD6 (@Jen4PBSD6) October 23, 2021
During an Oct. 27 Senate Judiciary hearing, AG Garland did not seem to have a clear grasp of the Oct. 14 Montana memo that listed the federal crimes that might be used to prosecute parents who advocate for their children at school board meetings.
Hawley cited the memo in his grilling of Garland, saying Garland’s DOJ may use or material from the Montana memo as a “blueprint” to justify the initiatives outlined in his Oct. 4 memorandum. Garland denies ever having seen the Montana memo. The RAIR Foundation obtained and published the letter sent by the Acting United States Attorney’s office in Montana.
Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has catalogued 13 federal crimes for which parents could be prosecuted for speaking out at school board meetings – but Garland says he doesn’t have time to review his Department’s own plans pic.twitter.com/odA9q69np1
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 27, 2021
RAIR is a “grassroots activist organization comprised of everyday Americans leading a movement to reclaim our Republic from the network of individuals and organizations waging war on Americans, our Constitution, our borders and our Judeo-Christian values,” according to the “about page” on the website.
Garland encountered brutal questioning from the Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz as well. Cruz contends in the exchange below that during the “eight years under Barack Obama, the Department of Justice(DOJ) was politicized and weaponized.”
He asks Garland whether Americans can expect the same type of weaponization given the memorandum’s directive to investigate parents using federal and state agencies. Garland had previously committed not to weaponize the DOJ because of politics.
When asked about the “violent incidents” cited in his memorandum, Garland stated he didn’t know if any of the incidents were violent or not. Garland seemed to skirt the issue by saying that his memo never referred to parents as domestic terrorists, even though the NSBA letter formed the basis for his memo. Garland also stated that parents would continue to enjoy their First Amendment rights.