Emails show frustration within NSBA, resistance to White House letter comparing parents to domestic terrorists

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FIRST ON FOX: Newly released emails shed light on the discontent within the National School Boards Association (NSBA) after its letter to the White House suggested that parents might be engaging in domestic terrorism.

Obtained by Parents Defending Education (PDE), the internal emails show multiple state-level officials expressing dismay over the now-infamous letter’s content and the purported process for reviewing it.

“Clearly, this was orchestrated and the letter contrived for political theater,” reads an email from Sally Smith, executive director for the Alabama Association of School Boards.

“If NSBA is going to be a shill for an administration (any administration) to the detriment of many of its members, what rational explanation is there for failure to involve the board in this decision?”

( Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)

NSBA’s letter, sent on Sept. 29, caused a media and political firestorm as it appeared to prompt the Justice Department’s memo about a nationwide investigation into intimidation against school boards. Emails also confirm that the NSBA was in communication with the White House “for weeks” prior to DOJ’s memo.

Steven Chapman, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Region, said on Oct. 2: “My hope for a letter like this, or any letter that we are going to send to the President of the United States and push through a press release is at least reviewed by the executive committee.”

President Biden departs the White House on Nov. 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Both he and Smith expressed concerns about school board opposition, but indicated that NSBA bungled the response.

“There is a need to expose the verifiable activities of groups whose stated goal is to disrupt school board meetings,” Smith said in an Oct. 4 email. “That opportunity is now lost. NSBA’s letter to the president was so incompetent it achieves neither of these goals, and in fact, did far more harm than good.”

“Even without the foreseeable negative publicity the letter generated, it was a bad idea; contrary to NSBA positions supporting local control; full of unsubstantiated hyperbole in referencing hate crimes and domestic terrorism; politically reckless in linking CRT and masking; and ineptly executed with no apparent strategic plan for rollout and media follow up.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a press conference at the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building on Nov. 08, 2021 in Washington, D.C.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Andrea Messina, who leads the Florida School Boards Association (FSBA), criticized the NSBA for its apparent lack of interest in safety.

“If they were truly concerned about safety, it would not have been accompanied by a press release and media interviews,” Messina said in an Oct. 2 email. “They made it about NSBA, not safety.”

Messina confirmed the email to Fox News on Thursday. Beverly Slough, who has also worked with FSBA, also confirmed emails in which she worried that an anti-critical race theory group would leverage the issue publicly.

“I am so upset. Moms for Liberty will have a field day with this!” she said. She also sent NSBA Chair Chip Slaven an email objecting to “the sending of this letter in the strongest way.”

“While I realize that we have all been under duress at our meetings, I do not feel that it rises to the level of asking for federal law enforcement to manage the meetings,” wrote Slough in a Oct. 1 email.

NSBA did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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