Empower Wisconsin | June 15, 2022
MADISON — The Wisconsin Association of School Boards(WASB) has voted to cut ties with its controversial national counterpart that asked the Biden administration to sic federal law enforcement agents on frustrated parents.
On Friday, WASB’s board of directors voted not to renew its membership in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for the 2022-23 school year, according to a letter obtained by Empower Wisconsin.
At least 25 state school board associations have ended their relationships with the national group following NSBA’s letter in September comparing parents speaking out at school board meetings to terrorists.
WASB’s membership in the national association expires June 30, although it voted to suspend participation in the NSBA in November.
The WASB’s Board of Directors concluded the interests of Wisconsin school boards are not being represented effectively at the national level by the NSBA.
“The board’s rationale for the decision includes ongoing concerns — many of which pre-date last fall’s events — about NSBA leadership, governance structure and transparency; the fiscal management and financial oversight of the national association; and its failure to prioritize and serve state school board associations,” wrote Barb Herzog, president of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, in a letter to legislative offices.
Herzog said actions by NSBA’s leadership last fall needlessly harmed school board relationships and inflamed partisan tensions.
“Those actions caused more than half of the state school board organizations across the nation to distance themselves from the NSBA or drop membership entirely,” she wrote, adding that the WASB is encouraged by the selection of a new executive director at the national organization and “will be anticipating positive changes.”
In September, the National School Board Association sent a letter to President Biden requesting a joint collaboration between state and federal law enforcement to investigate threats against school officials. The NSBA requested that actions should be examined under the Patriot Act as domestic terrorism. After the letter went public, the association apologized for “some of the language included in the letter.”
“We also apologize for the strain and stress this situation has caused you and your organizations,” NSBA wrote in a memo to state affiliates.
Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to look into what he called a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against educators and school board members.
In its letter to lawmakers, WASB insists its support for parent and community input is “unwavering,” but it will continue to urge “civility in the conduct of school board business.”