NYSSBA statement in response to Department of Justice memo regarding threats against school board members and staff

FOR RELEASE: October 5, 2021

Updated statement on November 3, 2021

NYSSBA thanks the U.S. Attorney General’s office for taking swift action to ensure that school boards, school administrators, teachers and staff throughout the country are protected against threats, intimidation and harassment. We agree that any illegal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We also recognize that a fundamental, bedrock principal of our democracy is the ability of citizens to communicate their views directly to elected leaders. Open discussion is at the root effective school governance. We support the right of all citizens to voice – within the bounds of the law and appropriate decorum – their views about decisions that affect their children and communities. Our members welcome respectful and constructive feedback from the people they serve.

Although we are thankful that the level of threats, intimidation and harassment has not risen to such a level here in New York State as to require federal intervention, just knowing that the resources of the federal government are standing at the ready is greatly comforting. In the meantime, our organization is devoting its efforts to providing school boards and administrators with the necessary tools to diffuse public expressions of anger and upset, with the goal of returning to a time when civil discourse was a hallmark of school board meetings and we can all continue to serve as exemplars for our students.

 

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