A group representing local public school boards is asking the Biden administration to invoke the Patriot Act and federal hate crimes legislation, among other measures, to go after parents who have aggressively opposed board policies and members who have adopted measures such as mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory curricula.
In the open letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the National School Boards Association asserts that ''education leaders are under an immediate threat.''
The request ''to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation'' comes as reports of angry parents expressing opposition to COVID-19 policies and curriculum changes — particularly those tied to critical race theory — have become more frequent.
Videos of loud and demonstrative attendees of school board meetings across the country, particularly Loudoun County in Virginia, have circulated on the internet.
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in U.S. law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that U.S. society is inherently racist.
The NSBA letter, signed by its president, Viola M. Garcia, and interim executive director and CEO, Chip Slaven, asks that the Biden administration mobilize the resources of the departments of Justice, Education and Homeland Security, and the FBI and its counterterrorism division.
''Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure,'' the letter reads.
''As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue.''
The letter cited examples of a person in Michigan yelling a ''Nazi salute'' at a protest of mask mandates and another of a ticket for trespassing in Virginia for opposing a mask mandate.
It added that many school board members have chosen to resign or not seek reelection.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday said local law enforcement is largely responsible for local school boards, but "we’re continuing to explore if more can be done from across the administration."
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