Minnesota School Boards Terminate NSBA Membership After ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Letter

Minnesota School Boards Terminate NSBA Membership After ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Letter
Children hold up signs during a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va., on June 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

The Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) has terminated its membership with the National School Boards Association (NSBA), joining a growing number of states to do so over a highly controversial Biden administration letter, which likened concerned parents to domestic terrorists.

“The MSBA Board of Directors acted last week to terminate our membership with NSBA,” a letter from the nonprofit organization to school board chairs and superintendents dated Jan. 4 states.

It comes after the NSBA sent a letter (pdf) to President Joe Biden on Sept. 29, 2021, characterizing disruptions at school board meetings as “a form of domestic terrorism and hate crime.” The organization also urged the federal government to invoke counterterrorism laws to quell “angry mobs” of parents seeking to hold school officials accountable for teaching Marxist critical race theory and for imposing COVID-19 restrictions such as mask mandates on their children.

Just five days later, on Oct. 5, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo directing federal law enforcement to help address an alleged “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against teachers and school leaders. The memo remains in effect, despite the NSBA having since apologized for and rescinded the letter.

“Prior to the letter to the Biden administration, we had ongoing concerns regarding the value of membership with the NSBA,” MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind wrote. “With 18 other state school board associations already terminating their membership, we felt it was important to reevaluate the value and consider what will be in the best short- and long-term interests for MSBA and its members.”

Schneidawind said the decision “was not taken lightly,” noting that MSBA plans to form a new Consortium of State School Boards Associations (COSSBA) alongside the other 18 state school board associations who have terminated their memberships with the NSBA.

“The executive directors and staff from the 18 state associations have already created a structure with enormous opportunity,” said Schneidawind. He added that COSSBA will allow the group “to design and build a multi-state association for today and the future.”

Meanwhile, newly surfaced emails suggest that the U.S. Department of Education might have played a more important role than previously thought in the creation of the letter.

According to email exchanges obtained by advocacy group Parents Defending Education (PDE), the NSBA letter appears to be a response to a request for information by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

It comes comes amid questions over the Biden administration’s involvement in the creation of the NSBA letter, which still serves as the basis of a series of actions taken by the Justice Department.

“We are confident that this new opportunity, through a multi-state association, will support and strengthen our efforts in building high performing school boards in each of our school districts,” MSBA’s statement concluded.

Bill Pan contributed to this report.