COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)- This week the Justice Department announced a new plan of action to fight the harassment, intimidation, and threats school officials are receiving. Ohio educators said they are seeing these incidents in the buckeye state.
“There has just been a lot of hatred and threats of violence that have happened that just make the job so difficult,” said Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.
Attorney General Merrick Garland directed federal officials to meet with federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local law enforcement leaders to talk about addressing this “disturbing” trend.
In a letter sent to President Joe Biden, the National School Boards Association wrote “NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence…”. They went on to said, “Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks… many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction”.
Ruth Edmonds the Director of Center for Christian Virtue has attended protests against Critical Race Theory. She said violence is never acceptable but parents should feel like their voices are being heard.
“When we see parents showing up at school board meetings, that’s a wonderful thing. That suggests an engaged parent,” Ruth Edmonds, Director of Center for Christian Virtue.
Cropper said the actions go well beyond an engaged parent though and cross the line of civility.
“There’s a difference between criticism, feedback, and debate and making threats. So calling people Nazis, following people to their cars and saying we know where you live,” said Cropper.
Nikki Hudson, a school board member in Worthington, Ohio has experienced some of the threats federal officials are concerned about. Recently, she received a letter said, “We are coming after you and all the members on the … BoE” and “You are forcing them to wear mask—for no reason in this world other than control. And for that you will pay dearly.”
Hudson said she has heard some people complain federal officials are getting involved.
“Parents are going to be outraged that you’re asking the FBI to look into them and I’m like ‘No, no, no, parents are outraged that there are other individuals in our community and, or parents who are sending threatening letters to our school board members,” said Hudson.
Cropper worries that harassment and threats may deter good candidates from becoming a teacher or getting involved in public education. Hudson said she won’t let it stop her from doing her job.
“My husband and I are raising two girls and we try to model the behavior of what we teach them which is you don’t back down to bullies,” said Hudson.