MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Rep. Russell Fry of Horry County is one of 34 state lawmakers calling for the South Carolina School Boards Association to withdraw from the National School Boards Association.
This comes after the NSBA wrote a letter to President Joe Biden on Sept. 29 expressing concerns about the safety of school board members and educators after reports of threats and attacks from those opposing COVID-19 policies in schools.
The NSBA said groups opposing the COVID policies have been linked to hate groups and been linked to several injuries and arrests across the country.
Although not aware of any incidents in South Carolina, Fry said Tuesday that the letter from the NSBA is disrespectful to parents voicing their concerns.
“I think it stifles free speech and it really does a lot to remove confidence of the public in the school districts themselves,” Fry said.
The letter from the NSBA also calls for federal assistance in protecting school board members through the FBI, Homeland Security and other agencies.
“There was a lot of inflammatory language that was used,” Fry said.
In the letter NSBA said: “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
Fry said labeling parents as domestic terrorists threatens First Amendment rights.
“I think if that’s the leadership we see out of the National School Boards Association South Carolina will do well to remove themselves from that organization,” he said.
Scott Price, executive director of the SCSBA, said he thinks the letter went too far.
“We do not like the letter,” he said. “We felt that it was [an] overreach. Calling for federal intervention is not something that we support.”
Although in disagreement with the NSBA, Price said the impact of cutting ties with the organization would trickle down to local classrooms.
“It affects the levels of funding that local school districts receive from the federal government for special education students,” Price said, giving one example of the impact.
The NSBA has since issued an apology, stating that there was no justification for the language used in the letter. Price said the SCSBA is keeping an eye on what’s next for the organization.