National school board bleeding members, cash may now face challenge from rival group

Loudoun school board invites furious parents back

Independent Woman’s Forum Director Patrice Lee Onwuka and Democratic Strategist Kelly Hyman on Loudoun County school board hearing out parents and President Biden tightening travel testing mandates.

The National School Board Association has hemorrhaged members and funds following the revelation of a letter that compared parents to domestic terrorists. 

School board associations in various states faced tense situations as disgruntled parents vented their frustrations over COVID-19 mask mandates, remote learning and other difficulties in the classroom. The NSBA submitted a letter to President Biden in which it claimed members suffered acts of “malice, violence and threats” that “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

The letter, submitted in September, drew immediate backlash from the public and some individual state associations. The NSBA apologized for the comparison, but the impact has continued to resonate even months later. 

At least 17 affiliates have cut ties with the organization and have considered forming a new, rival group after losing faith in leadership over the letter and its handling of various issues, Axios reported. 

Parents and community members attend a Loudoun County School Board meeting, just 40 minutes from Fairfax
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

That loss of membership would constitute a loss of around $1.1 million in membership fees and annual dues – roughly 42% of the total fees paid to the NSBA in 2019, according to the National Review. 

Florida appeared to lead the charge with a letter from Steve Gallon III of the Miami-Dade County school board to NSBA leadership last month. Gallon blasted the lack of “transparency and accountability” from the organization, “failures that continue to exacerbate an already untenable and potentially irreparable situation.” 

Elizabeth L. Schultz, a member of the Fairfax County School Board for 8 years, wearing a "Parents are not domestic terrorists" t-shirt.
(Fox News Digital)

Gallon claimed the organization has weakened “a national voice for public education” and helped fan the flames of partisanship. 

And Florida amended its bylaws to change requirements that would keep Florida school boards in the NSBA, paving the way for them to join an alternative organization. 

The Montana and Pennsylvania associations have sought to create “another mechanism in collaboration with others,” according to internal memos and emails that sought to gauge interest from other states. 

Alabama split from the NSBA last week, and Arkansas has mulled following the other states out the door. The Arkansas motion will see a vote on Wednesday during its association annual meeting. 

Tony Prothro, executive director of the Arkansas School Boards Association, voiced “long-standing concerns” about the operations of the national group, citing the letter to Biden as a breaking point – not for disagreeing with the spirit of the letter but that the National group submitted it without approval from other associations. 

“Can you imagine me sending a letter to the governor asking him to send out the troops without my informing my board or my member districts? That tells you about the problems,” Prothro told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I tell people that the letter is only a reflection of the inherent issues within NSBA.”

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