COLUMBUS (WCMH) – After 66 years of partnership, the Ohio School Board Association is breaking ties with a national organization following a letter to President Joe Biden.

“It was predicated on the recent letter that the leadership of NSBA sent to President Biden that labeled parents as domestic terrorists and called for the federal intervention of law enforcement in local school board meetings,” said Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA) Rick Lewis, referring to a letter sent by the NSBA — the National School Boards Association — on Sept. 29.

Lewis said local school board meetings have been heated with many on opposing sides when it comes to masking and COVID-19 in their schools. This is what the NSBA requested from the Biden administration, writing, in part, “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.”

Lewis said OSBA believes threats or violence should be handled locally, not federally, and that’s why OSBA is dropping its membership in the NSBA.

Lewis said there is a loss to this.

“I think one of the better or most important things was the ability for school board members; they had an opportunity to network with their colleagues across the nation,” he said. “Their efforts in federal advocacy, so those are issues now that OSBA is no longer a member of that we would not have access to.”

One local school board member said over the phone that the move was disheartening. The Columbus Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers had no comment.

Lewis said if members disagree with the move, he wants to address their concerns.

“If it’s access to services, we’ll make that whole,” he said. “If it’s philosophical, we’ll do our best to have those conversations and constructively try to find middle ground and move forward together.”

Lewis said the NSBA sent a letter dated Oct. 22 apologizing for the language it used in its initial response to the Biden administration. It reads, in part:

“The safety of school board members, other public officials and educators, and students is our top priority and there remains important work to be done on this issue. However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”

“The apology was issued,” Lewis said. “It was impossible to just solve the damage with the letter and unring that bell, so our board felt very strong that they needed to make a statement.”