The national organization of middle and high school leaders is urging the Biden administration to do more to protect its members from “threats and violence” by parents who disagree with COVID-19 restrictions they put in place.
In a call for support, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) on Thursday said its members have been faced with “hostile community members” because of their policies on “highly charged issues” involving masks, quarantines, and vaccines.
The organization cited the confrontation between Teresa M. Hill, the principal of Walden Grove High School in Arizona, and a group of people who wanted to discuss with her a student who was prohibited from returning to class after possibly being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
“One month ago, seven people refused to leave our campus demanding a quarantined student attend class. After a lockdown of the front office for three hours, we were forced to arrest three of them,” Hill said in the release, alleging that she became the target of “multiple threatening and intimidating” messages, emails, and social media comments that called her a “Nazi” and “fascist.”
“School leaders are facing threats because they are simply trying to follow the health and scientific safety guidance that the CDC, state, and local health departments are issuing,” the press release reads. “NASSP is calling on federal officials to protect school leaders from rampant hostility and violence that disrupts our schools and threatens the safety of our educators and students.”
Specifically, the NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe argued that the federal government needs to take “more concrete actions,” starting from giving school leaders the authority to remove or ban “threatening individuals” from their schools.
“At the very least, we need the U.S. Department of Education to issue specific guidance on the authority school leaders have to protect themselves and our ability to remove or ban hostile parents and individuals from school grounds who threaten our safety,” said Nozoe.
The call comes as the Biden administration is working to support schools that defy their states’ orders to implement mask requirements and other COVID-19 restrictions.
“I’m directing the secretary of education to take additional steps to protect our children,” President Joe Biden said in August. “This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action if appropriate against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local schools officials and educators.”
On Sept. 9, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced that his department will be offering financial help to school districts with a new grant program called Project SAFE (Supporting America’s Families and Educators). This money is expected to be used to pay school officials whose salaries are being withheld by states for violating orders against enforcing mandates.