As parents and American citizens, we have the First Amendment right to assemble, speak freely and petition our government, including local school boards on any topic. Whether seeking relief from universal mask mandates, opposing Critical Race Theory indoctrination or addressing other issues affecting our children’s education, parents should feel confident in their constitutional right to speak their opinions. Sadly, the National School Board Association (NSBA), without approval from any state Boards of Education, recently “petitioned” the Federal Government’s law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice and FBI, to abridge these constitutional rights.
The September 29th NSBA letter relies on selective and biased media reporting rather than actual indictments or convictions to request that “federal law enforcement” deal with what they claim to be “growing threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across this nation." NSBA suggests these acts, which they describe as “domestic terrorism," provide justification to employ the Patriot Act against parents who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
The lack of any direct evidence of threats or harassment by parents when addressing school boards is a clear sign that this has nothing to do with domestic terrorism. Rather, the left is attempting to further divide this country by launching a cultural war and using intimidation to silence those who do not agree with their liberal agenda.
Within five days of receiving the NSBA letter, the Biden administration's Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to work with US Attorneys and meet with federal, state, and local leaders to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff and open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response".
It is the foundation and core value of our representative government that parents enjoy their constitutional right to speak before and petition their Boards of Education to shape their desired school curriculums. Parents can affect change primarily in two ways: electing school board members who represent their core values and exercising their First Amendment right to freely address their local school boards.
It is disturbing that Attorney General Garland is attempting to assert federal authority over a local school board matter, which has no valid constitutional predication and clearly violates the basic principles of free speech and federalism.
Attorney General Garland’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee indicated he could not factually support his own directive. Instead, it was a political action taken to stifle and intimidate parents from exercising their First Amendment rights. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is about upholding the Constitutional right of each American to freely express themselves, seek hearing before and redress their grievances from governmental authorities.
Fortunately on October 26th, the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) took a strong stand by severing ties with the NSBA and will no longer will be a member of the national association. This decision is a direct result of the letter sent to President Joe Biden, which they claim was sent on behalf of state associations and school members across the nation. The OSBA stated, "this assertion could not be further from the truth."
Their reasonings echo my belief as a parent and my position as an elected official that "there is tremendous value in allowing and encouraging the public to have meaningful input into the decision making process."
I applaud this decision and believe it speaks to our state's commitment to uphold Ohioans’ First Amendment rights, and empowers parents to use their voice to advocate for what they believe is best for their child.
We are not domestic terrorists; we are American parents.