Violence, threats at school board meetings do not appear to be widespread throughout the state

FOR RELEASE: October 19, 2021

The vast majority (80%) of school board members in New York State have not experienced or witnessed violent acts or threats of violence against school officials at a school board meeting over the past 12 months, according to a poll by the New York State School Boards Association. 

"While school board members in some pockets of the state have experienced threats of violence and intimation, these incidents do not appear widespread," said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider. 

"We agree that any illegal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, we also recognize that a fundamental, bedrock principal of our democracy is the ability of citizens to communicate their views directly to elected leaders," added NYSSBA General Counsel and Deputy Executive Director Jay Worona. 

The poll found that 56% of board members believe the current level of security provided at their school board meetings is sufficient to keep everyone in attendance safe. Only 17% felt their current security level was not sufficient, while 27% were not sure. 

More than half of board members (55%) also said that the threat level they are experiencing at school board meetings would not be a significant factor in their decision whether to run for school board again when their current term expires. Twenty-nine percent indicated it would be a significant factor in their decision, while 16 were not sure. 

"We would hate to see an environment in which anybody – incumbents and potential board members alike – feels deterred from serving on their local boards of education since serving the public through school board service remains integral to grassroots democracy," Schneider added. 

Poll results are based on a random sample of school board members surveyed between October 4, 2021 and October 7, 2021. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.9% and a confidence level of 95%.

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