Following hoards of backlash, the National School Board Association (NSBA) has issued an apology for their letter asking Joe Biden, the DOJ and FBI to investigate parents who speak out at school board meetings under domestic terrorism.

The letter, addressed to NSBA members, said “we regret and apologize for this letter” following “extensive media and other attention recently around our letter to President Biden regarding threats and acts of violence against school board members.”


The organization said that “There was no justification for some of the language included in this letter.”

The group Parents Defending Education obtained emails through a Freedom of Information Act request which showed that the Board of Directors for NSBA was not consulted prior to sending the letter. However, those emails also showed that the organization’s interim executive director, Chip Slaven, had been in talks with the White House for “several weeks” over what to include in their letter.

The White House reportedly requested they include incidents of “specific threats.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland used the NSBA’s letter as cause to mobilize the FBI to “investigate and prosecute” parents in relation to school board meetings and protests.


After the backlash started to become apparent from their divisive letter, John Halkias, board member from Ohio, wrote on October 1, “However, while I believe the intent was good, unfortunately, instead of helping our members and working to decrease the tensions and hostility that many of us are facing, we seem to have fanned those flames of hostility and division. Rather than helping our cause and calming the waters, this letter has re-awakened hostilities that were just beginning to finally calm down as the things many of us put in place were having a positive effect on student safety, learning, and attendance.

I agree with many of my colleagues that the Board of Directors should have been consulted before a letter like this was sent out publicly, and no less to the President of the United States and the National Press. I also agree that the letter took a stance that went beyond what many of us would consider to be reasonable and used terms that were extreme, and asked for action by the Federal Government that many of us would not request.”


Halkias continued, “Many of us have been put in a position now of explaining or defending this action of our association as we are asked by
members of our community if we consider them domestic terrorists for showing up to our meetings and expressing their opinions. As a Member of this Board, I can defend the intent, but not the approach or much of the tone or content. And it makes me chagrined to have to say that…

“…what happened with this letter and the backlash I am seeing has made me reflect on my service on this board to this point, and how we have gone about our business that goes beyond this letter, and has caused me concern. If we don’t do better, the very survival and relevance of NSBA is at stake.”

After their initial divisive letter was sent, the NSBA President, Dr. Viola Garcia, was selected to be a part of the 26-member “National Assessment Governing Board.”

In the announcement, the Department of Education said, “Dr. Viola Garcia, NSBA President and member of the Aldine, Texas Independent School District Board of Trustees, has been appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). NAGB oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the ‘Nation’s Report Card.’

“[The] Governing Board is responsible for deciding which subjects NAEP assesses, determining the assessments’ content, setting achievement levels that describe student performance, and pursuing new ways to make NAEP results useful and meaningful to the public. Although the Board operates independently, NAEP law calls for members to be appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education.”

This piece was written by Leah Anaya on October 23, 2021. It originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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