Columns

Army Bob: Policing school board meetings overreach

by Robert M. Traxler

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — First Amendment.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” — Tenth Amendment.

One would think that school board meetings are covered by the Constitution. Nothing is more local than a board of education, unpaid and locally elected by the people in the school district. It is what the founders had in mind when they drafted the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights: local control of the lives of local people.

I served on a state board in Illinois for five years that oversaw a school district that was a financial train wreck. The Board of Education (BOE) had spent every penny they could borrow until the interest on the loans and the obligations the BOE incurred were more, a lot more, than the available funds.

The choice was bankruptcy or the state stepping in and take financial control of the school district with some 6,000 students. If they went bankrupt it could impact the bond interest rate on every district in the State, so it could not be allowed, along with the problem that neighboring districts would have had to assume the new students with the cost that incurred.

Needless to say, the BOE was not happy, and staff  members were not pleased with cuts in pay and benefits. The public meetings were heated and loud, but no one was ever cut off and everyone got to speak their minds. The local police were present, but never needed; it made for a few long nights with people loudly and verbosely speaking. Protesters showed up at my home and marched outside the meetings, but no one was ever arrested or ejected from a meeting; all people were treated with respect and allowed to be heard.

Calling in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make parents equal to terrorists, using the Patriot Act against parents or other folks who publicly speak their minds at a local BOE meeting is just one more example of federal overreach and a violation of the spirit and letter of the Bill of Rights.

The local police have the ability to police their local folks; if they fail, then the county steps in. If they fail, then the state and finally the federal government. From what I have read, the local police handled the situations when people protested teaching Critical Race Theory and the 1619 project.

Army Bob Traxler

Calling in the FBI before even allowing the county or state to handle the “problem” is a violation of the Constitution, but who cares? It is all in the name of social justice, whatever in the hell that really is.

For a socialist government to control our nation, the Constitution in general and the Bill of rights in particular must be relegated to the trash heap of history. The core belief of the socialist movement is that the federal government is not only a force for good, but the only allowable force for good. The absolute belief among socialists is equal outcome for all, not equal opportunity for all.

As the socialists gain control, what George Orwell wrote about in his two works, “Animal Farm” and “1984,” the socialist government then embraces nationalism, left wing nationalism, and “some animals being more equal than others,” establish a new ruling class.

Calling in the FBI to investigate people who speak out at BOE meetings has a chilling effect on free speech, a tactic necessary to bury dissent at the most basic level. God help us all.

My opinion.

6 Comments

  • Seems an understatement to say that these are more contentious times, with rather extenuating circumstances compared to the days you served in Illinois. Had an attempt to assassinate the federal line of succession, and a portion of congress by a “group of individuals” occured that year? What about an attempt to abduct and assassinate the governor by a “group of individuals” some of which resided in the nearby area. This source has reported on what I understood to be potential political operative instigators from well outside the school district interfering with the peaceful process. It seems more than prudent to involve likewise outside professional investigative resources considering the recent climate. I could of course be completely wrong, it seems unreasonable fear of inspection and scrutiny could imply alternative motivations are involved.

  • Mr. Tony Baloney,
    Sir, to paint all folks with the broad brush of the few in an unrelated incident at the capital may not be a good idea. If the local police can’t handle a situation, then the county, then the state steps in. The National Board of Education posted a letter of apology for calling folks who speak out at BOE meetings terrorists and requesting the FBI assume jurisdiction and stated it was an overreach.
    It remains to be seen if the DOJ will change its policy of assuming investigations. It is sadly too late as the DOJ policy has chilled free speech having the effect it was after, arresting a person as a terrorist suspect is ruinous for the rest of their lives, guilty or not.
    It is surprising the left of old is down with chilling free speech, “Times they Are a-Changin.”
    Thanks for the comment.

  • My intent was not to “paint all folks” as you state. I believe I assumed you included recent local meetings in your opinion. My concern is that outside instigators with no actual local ties are attempting to use local school decisions to elevate national political platforms. Along with the potential to further degrade civil discourse and safety. I was not aware of an arrest at recent local meetings. If one occured what are they charged with? In the article you said “make parents equal to terrorists”. What exactly does that mean? Was a parent charged with domestic terrorism? Possibly a more informative question than the brush you have used. Again I was referring to outside individuals, not parents of the students or even local citizens. My references to seemingly outside events is an attempt to convey how current political situations have escalated beyond what appears to be the regular scope of local law enforcement. Is enforcement of political free speech law the sole jurisdiction of local law enforcement? Another example of recent methods would be the situation that has played out during election day at the Leighton township building. Is election site interference the sole jurisdiction of local law enforcement, even when a national election is occurring? For historical reference I’m curious how the various agencies delt with these issues during the Watergate situation, I assume it was extra complicated, seems possible a specific route applied due to it occurring in DC. What feels certain, is a constant attempt to distract and obfuscate away from core facts pertaining to recent events. I don’t have an opinion at this point, but I have many questions.

  • Unfortunately, the column fails to mention who, specifically, is “calling in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make parents equal to terrorists.” So I did a little online research, and found that on September 29, 2021, the “National School Boards Association” wrote President Biden regarding meeting disruptions and threats of physical violence against local school board members and staff. The letter is signed by the NSBA Board President and its CEO, and posted on its public web site. Here’s a quote:

    “While local and state law enforcement agencies are working with public school officials in several communities to prevent further disruptions to educational services and school district operations, law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions need assistance – including help with monitoring the threat levels. 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 Center3 regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses.”

    The NSBA letter includes footnotes with sources and references, and overall seems pretty reasonable to me, given the well-documented threats and meeting disruptions, and the growing domestic terrorism in our country. It may be the source of the columnist’s concerns, but the letter says nothing about calling in the FBI to “make parents equal to terrorists.”

    In the columnist’s followup comment, he mentions that “the National Board of Education posted a letter of apology for calling folks who speak out at BOE meetings terrorists and requesting the FBI assume jurisdiction and stated it was an overreach.” Unfortunately, I cannot find any web site for a “National Board of Education,” nor can I find the apology letter referenced in the columnist’s comment. Again, I’m uncertain regarding the source of the columnist’s concerns.

    However, several self-described “conservative” web sites are now referencing and actively promoting an “apology,” supposedly published just yesterday, that some are attributing to the NSBA. A few also post an unsigned “Memorandum” to “NSBA Members” from “NSBA Board of Directors,” printed on what appears to be the NSBA’s own letterhead. Other web sites in this network say that the documents came from the “Nationwide College Boards Affiliation.” Unfortunately, I cannot find that organization’s web site, either.

    So perhaps my own research is flawed. Or, perhaps the apology memorandum has just not yet been officially been verified and posted on the NSBA’s own web site.

    The columnist frequently points out: ”Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.” Unfortunately and sadly, despite the columnist’s repeated assurances otherwise, I’m pretty sure that we live in a time when many people do, in fact, make stuff up. These canards often conveniently fail to include information sources, or they fabricate sources that sound believable, and they misrepresent, confuse and conflate the details.

    Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to pass along misinformation and leave everyone dazed and confused. But thanks again to the internet, it’s also easier than ever to dig through all the fog, smoke and mirrors, and hopefully find some light.

  • “The National School Boards Association board of directors Friday repudiated a letter its two top officials sent to President Biden, which precipitated Attorney General Merrick Garland’s order that the FBI to investigate complaints of threats to school officials from parents.
    In a message to NSBA members, the board said that “we regret and apologize for the letter,” which was sent Sept. 29 and co-signed by association CEO Chip Slaven and President Viola Garcia.” NY Post 22 October

    • Mr. Traxler, I too noticed the report in the NY Post, and it can also be found on many other “conservative” news web sites. But at this point I’m still suspicious, and I’m wondering if it might be “fake news.” I haven’t been able to find any apologies or repudiation of their original letter on the NSBA’s own public web site, or on any politically-neutral news channels. So hopefully the “truth” is out there somewhere, and it will become known in the days ahead.

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