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Rapid City School Board Threatens to Leave ASBSD for Failure to Participate in Justification of Domestic Terrorism

In another sign of its ideological disconnect from its basic duties, the Rapid City School Board has on its November 2 agenda a resolution to withdraw from the Associated School Boards of South Dakota. The reason for this radical departure is no collection of long-standing grievances or any evidence of underperformance, corruption, or administrative superfluity of the non-profit that trains and supports school board members, lobbies for their interests in Pierre, and helps them find teachers. Rapid City’s radical right-wing school board members would ditch all that just because the ASBSD isn’t as interested in making political statements and denying the reality of domestic terrorism as they are.

In September, the National School Boards Association posted a letter to President Joe Biden asking “for federal assistance to stop threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators.” NSBA said the threats and violence are fueled by resistance to pandemic protection measures and false propaganda about “critical race theory”:

NSBA believes immediate assistance is required to protect our students, school board members, and educators who are susceptible to acts of violence affecting interstate commerce because of threats to their districts, families, and personal safety. As our school boards continue coronavirus recovery operations within their respective districts, they are also persevering against other challenges that could impede this progress in a number of communities. Coupled with attacks against school board members and educators for approving policies for masks to protect the health and safety of students and school employees, many public school officials are also facing physical threats because of propaganda purporting the false inclusion of critical race theory within classroom instruction and curricula. This propaganda continues despite the fact that critical race theory is not taught in public schools and remains a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class [NSBA President Viola M. Garcia and NSBA exec/CEO Chip Slaven, open letter to President Joe Biden, 2021.09.29].

The letter documented more than 20 examples of the threats and violence that alarm the NSBA. Deeming this anti-school violence “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the NSBA asked for federal law enforcement to work with state and local police to protect our schools:

As these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent – during public school board meetings, via documented threats transmitted through the U.S. Postal Service, through social media and other online platforms, and around personal properties – NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats. NSBA specifically solicits the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses. We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.

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. As such, NSBA requests a joint expedited review by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the appropriate training, coordination, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms from the FBI, including any technical assistance necessary from, and state and local coordination with, its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division, as well as any other federal agency with relevant jurisdictional authority and oversight. Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure. As the threats grow and news of extremist hate organizations showing up at school board meetings is being reported, this is a critical time for a proactive approach to deal with this difficult issue [Garcia and Slaven, 2021.09.29].

Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to the NASB letter by directing the FBI and U.S. Attorneys to look into the violence, saying that the First Amendment does not protect “threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views” and that threatening public servants is illegal and “counter to our nation’s core values.”

But since bullying is a core value of the Republican Party and its insurgents on school boards across the country, the Rapid City School Board is threatening to stop paying membership fees or anything else to ASBSD for its failure to denounce the NASB for calling brownshirt tactics domestic terrorism:

Rapid City School Board, resolution calling for withdrawal from ASBSD, in agenda packet, 2021.11.02.
Rapid City School Board, resolution calling for withdrawal from ASBSD, in agenda packet, 2021.11.02.

This vaguely written resolution leaves the public uneducated as to what it is talking about, failing to specify which letter, when it was written, what it contained, what values of the current board it contravened (or why we would emphasize the values of the “current” board, when the values of a public body are considered constant and defined by its charter or constitution), what White House communication with the NASB has to do with this complaint, or why cutting the district off from the useful services of South Dakota’s school board service group is a logical consequence of the ASBSD’s action, or, more accurately, its failure to take action in response to a trivial political controversy.

But such vague shouting is what you get when your elected officials aren’t thinking for themselves and are simply slurping up and burping back the culture-war pablum manufactured by Fox News and a fake grassroots education group manufactured by Koch-connected corporate school privatizers.

As of last week, at least four state school board associations (New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Missouri) have formally cut ties with the NSBA for calling violence against school boards “domestic terrorism.” The NSBA already backed down on October 22, apologizing for the September 29 letter, saying “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter” (although, slipping into RCAS vagueness, NSBA doesn’t say which language was unjustified), and promising to “improve[] coordination and consultation among our staff, our board, and our members across the country.” ASBSD exec Wade Pogany similarly retreats before brownshirt rage:

Wade Pogany, executive director for the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said in a telephone interview that the Associated School Boards does not agree with the letter, including its call for federal law enforcement assistance.

“What the National School Boards has done is a mistake,” Pogany said. “We were not consulted. We were not aware of this letter until it was sent out.”

Pogany said the Associated School Boards of South Dakota is “working with the National School Boards Association so that this doesn’t happen again.” He also said that regarding “any threats, or any disorderly conduct, we have encouraged local school boards to work with local law enforcement” [Michael Neary, “Grants, Grandview, State Affiliation Among Topics to Be Considered by School Board,” Rapid City Journal, 2021.11.01].

Maybe the NASB should have sent a draft around for organizational review, but don’t let that process point cloud the main issue, for which no apology is needed: deliberately misinformed and misinforming right-wing domestic terrorists are attacking our school boards and other public institutions. Thugs are threatening school officials with violence for doing their jobs, with the intent of undermining public education and democracy. The Rapid City School Board doesn’t want us talking about that problem because its new radical members are part of that problem.

17 Comments

  1. O 2021-11-02

    Acting from absolute ideological purity and consequences be damned — nothing ever went wrong going down that path.

    It seems that again the differentiation between campaigning and governing has been lost.

  2. Jake 2021-11-02

    Those people that thwart the rules and crowd the schoo board meetings with no masks on are no better than those thugs in Arizona and Michigan and elsewhere that left crude, vulgar, life-threatening messages on phones and emails to GOP election supervisors that were simply doing their jobs as society expects them to. Winning at ANY costs to oneself or society seems to be the goal of these perverted sense of patriotism people.
    The majority of the RCAS board think it’s more important to “stick it to the libs” than do their jobs for the good of students, staff and society.

  3. larry kurtz 2021-11-02

    It’s difficult to imagine a future where anybody but the extreme white wing of the Republican Party rules all of Rapid City government. Now that teachers’ salaries are again at the bottom of national scales only the weakest “educators” will stay so expect that bronze of Herr Trump to be installed on the Central High School campus.

  4. ds 2021-11-02

    We won’t be attending the RC school board meeting tonite or anytime soon. Those anti-vaxers and anti-maskers will be spewing their Covid-19 germs as they rail against science, logic, and public health. Anyone who speaks up in support of masks, vaccines or any other obvious health protocols will be shouted down and at risk of retaliation and even violence against them and their family.

  5. Donald Pay 2021-11-02

    Jake is correct. When I was on the school board I welcomed any comments from the public. You have to listen and weigh opinions, even if you disagree with them. We had to close some schools, and that brings a lot of emotion out, but it was controlled emotion, not the unhinged sort of anti-mask hooliganism we see quite a bit of these days. I wouldn’t call it “domestic terrorism.” It’s just citizens who have been badly misled, get emotionally charged about it, and become unwilling to accept reality and common decency.

    There are rules for civic engagement. When I was younger and emotionally involved in Vietnam war opposition, I violated those from time to time. We all learn from our mistakes, and I learned you have to engage based on facts and with a desire to listen to all sides. You can’t have people acting out like the anti-maskers, not following basic rules of human decency. But that doesn’t mean they are “terrorists.”

    Now, if they threaten or harm anyone or disrupt proceedings or prevent others from speaking out, that’s a problem that should be handled by a stiff does of local law and order. I’m not sure why you would call in the FBI, unless it’s part of an organized bioterror campaign. I’m not so sure Russian propaganda isn’t fueling some of this anti-mask.anti-vaccine nonsense, but the poor deluded people who foam at the mouth about masks or vaccines are more like cult followers than terrorists. Dangerous, yes, but maybe more a mental health issue than one for the FBI.

  6. Hooterhauler 2021-11-02

    I believe Donald is spot on. This is all smoke and mirrors, disguising the RCAS school board’s true colors. In Rapid City, and in other areas of our country, we’ve lost our sense of civility. Yes, civic engagement is the key to our constitutional republic. Yet all too often citizens wait to get involved until something percolates to the top. Sausage making is dirty and not that fun to watch. However, those who make the sausage get to determine what the ingredients will be.

  7. mike from iowa 2021-11-02

    Rabid City School Bored’s curriculum consists of Mein Kampf?

  8. O 2021-11-02

    One doesn’t command an insurrection or a Civil War 2.0 with civility. Civility is for those who believe in cooperative governance — not in absolute despotism.

  9. Kyle Krause 2021-11-02

    The bigger picture of what is currently playing out in Rapid City is the intentional undermining of our public school system from within, with the goal being to make it such that people clamor for vouchers and charter schools. The money and brains behind the new school board majority are people who support redirecting money away from public education. That will probably become a little more clear once campaign finance disclosures for the PACs that sprung up last election need to be filed in January.

    This is particularly relevant to Democrats on a statewide level because they are finding common-cause with the far right in supporting the creation of Oceti Sacowin charter schools. The far right views this as the crack in the door needed to start opening the floodgates for the redirection of public money towards private and charter schools.

  10. O 2021-11-02

    Kyle, I think you are right about the privatization angle at work here. That is sad. Now that these board members are a vote away from most any reform they would choose for their schools, they don’t seem to be moving toward reforming those schools along the pathways of what they think should be happening to make those schools better academically. it is all smoke-and-mirror social warfare.

    Maybe it is the story of the dog who catches the car, or “we have met the enemy . . .” Now that they CAN make changes that they have long held could not be done (with the “other guys” in office), changes that have been proposed as the boon of charter/privatization, it has been crickets on those transformative changes. The RCSB could make the Oceti Sacowin standards central to their schools, but none of this is about education or students; as you point out, it is about undermining the public schools and in the larger view, government itself.

  11. Porter Lansing 2021-11-02

    Research has revealed that only a dozen people are responsible for most of the hoaxes and lies about COVID-19 vaccines on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    The “Disinformation Dozen” produce 65% of the shares of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms, concluded the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate.
    1. Joseph Mercola
    2. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
    3. Ty & Charlene Bollinger
    4. Sherri Tenpenny
    5. Rizza Islam
    6. Rashid Buttar
    7. Erin Elizabeth
    8. Sayer Ji
    9. Kelly Brogan
    10 Christiane Northrup
    11 Ben Tapper
    12. Kevin Jenkins

    *If you’ve had social media contact with any of them or have been presented with an argument citing any of their opinions, those are conclusive “Russian Influencers” attempts to disrupt America and sow discord among us. Here’s a pdf of their bio’s.

    https://252f2edd-1c8b-49f5-9bb2-cb57bb47e4ba.filesusr.com/ugd/f4d9b9_b7cedc0553604720b7137f8663366ee5.pdf

  12. jerry 2021-11-02

    As the Balkanization of America unfolds, who will be stuck with us? You can bet it won’t be an area that has democracy of the people as it’s guidelines.

  13. jerry 2021-11-02

    republican school board ideas from Senator Tom Cotton(picker) describing perfectly republican attitude of what a teacher should be

    COTTON: “I mean, isn’t it amazing that Terry McAuliffe ends his entire campaign with the head of the teachers unions. Randi Weingarten is a joke. Randi Weingarten does not even have children of her own. What in the hell does she know about raising and teaching kids? In fact, that’s probably why she was perfectly fine to shut down schools for two years and force kids to wear masks, because she didn’t have to deal with it at home. And, if fact, Loudoun County, where they finished their campaign, the exact county that covered up two rapes, is also, now, closing schools this week. That’s what Democrats across the state of Virginia are going to do if Terry McAuliffe gets reelected. They’re going to shut down your schools again.”

    This is what they mean in Virginia as well as in Rapid City, South Dakota. Be married and have kids, white kids, and don’t bitch and moan because you don’t get paid much for what you do, billionaires need the money.

  14. John 2021-11-02

    The NASB’s memo was correct. Sure, they may have staffed its draft, but there’s an urgency of public safety.
    The far BIGGER concern is that it took a FLAMING WAKE UP call to the FBI and Justice Department to PAY ATTENTION, to DO SOMETHING over school grounds/ boards domestic terrorism, domestic civil violence. These are the same FBI and Justice Department that virtually IGNORED the bazillion signs of domestic terrorism that lead up January 6th.
    A pathetic read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/fallout-jan-6-insurrection/
    Also consider reading/audibling, The Peril.

  15. larry kurtz 2021-11-02

    Stan Adelstein has said Art LaCroix was Rapid City’s best mayor but just try to imagine somebody with proud Santee Sioux descent running that town today.

  16. Mark Anderson 2021-11-04

    Come on folks, just laugh at them. To their faces. The reaction is always good.

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