FARGO — The North Dakota School Board Association has decided to withdraw from the National School Board Association following a controversial letter the national group released late last year.
The North Dakota School Board Association alerted its members to the change in a letter that was recently sent to school board members, superintendents and school affairs managers.
The decision was made, according to the North Dakota association, after the national association sent a letter in September to President Joe Biden arguing for federal intervention in the clashes unfolding at school board meetings across the country.
The North Dakota School Board Association has since made it clear that it was not involved in the decision to send the letter to Biden. At its annual planning and budgeting meeting on June 17, the North Dakota School Board Association’s board of directors voted to not renew the association’s membership in the National School Board Association.
The letter the North Dakota organization sent to its members says that while it commends the national association for the steps it has taken to clarify the origin of the letter to Biden, “it has become clear for us that the long-term viability of the NSBA is in question.”
The North Dakota Association’s letter to its members contains
the national association tasked in January with determining the origins of what the state association describes as the “misguided” letter that was sent to Biden.
According to the findings of the internal review, the September 2021 letter was “primarily led, reviewed and approved by” Chip Slaven, former Director and Acting CEO of the National School Board Association, who was responsible for both “the origin and substance of the letter,” according to the journal.
The review also found that while there were indications of collaboration between Slaven and the White House, no direct or indirect evidence was found to suggest the Biden administration requested the letter.
Nonetheless, the letter to the Biden administration “directly contradicts our core commitments to parental engagement, local control and impartiality,” said John Heim, executive director and CEO of the national association.
In the letter the North Dakota organization sent to its members, Executive Director Alexis Baxley said, “We will continue to work with our partner state associations and our federal delegation to protect the strong system of local control that we have expanded in North Dakota and ensure the voice of locally elected school board members in North Dakota continues to be heard at the federal level.”
Rebecca Knutson, president of the Fargo School Board, said the board received information about the decision from the North Dakota association on Monday, June 20.
“At this point, the board has not discussed the implications of the decision,” Knutson said.
“I expect the board to have those discussions in the near future. Chapters in some other states have made the same decision,” Knutson added.