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The National School Boards Association has backed off its claim that actions by local school boards activists amount to "domestic terrorism" that necessitate federal investigations . (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

In an about face, the National School Boards Association has backed off its claim that actions by local school board activists amount to "domestic terrorism," which prompted Louisiana officials to end their affiliation with the national group.

The original letter, which was sent to President Joseph Biden, sparked controversy nationwide and led to a number of states ending their affiliation with the NSBA.

Leaders of the Alexandria, Va.-based group labeled actions at local school boards by critics of face masks and other issues "heinous" and comparable "to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."

The turnaround appeared Oct. 22 in a memorandum from the NSBA's board of directors.

"On behalf of the NSBA , we regret and apologize for the letter," according to the memo addressed to members of the group.

"To be clear, 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."

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"However, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter," leaders of the national group wrote.

"We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance."

Leaders of the Louisiana School Boards Association, in announcing their severing of ties with the national organization, said they were not consulted about the original letter, disagreed with the request and said it would discourage citizen participation in meetings.

Others accused the NSBA of trying to stifle criticism of how the nation's racial history is taught in classrooms and school admission policies.

Despite the turnaround federal action on the issue is already in motion.

U. S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed the U. S. Department of Justice and FBI to meet with state and local law enforcement leaders to address "threats" against school board members and others.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.