For my school system, it was almost six months ago.
In the two years since this pandemic had altered the reality for communities and our schools, no place had seen as much vitriol spewed as the rooms that hold school board meetings. As mask mandates were being lifted and rates of transmission waning and vaccinations rising, it seemed there should be some relief being felt.
In actuality, this junction became another launching pad for misplaced anger.
During a February 2022 WSFCS School Board meeting, a man who was part of a bigger concert of people approached the members without invitation to present a large box of documents. He was attempting to “serve” papers.
From Fox 8 News:
From the next morning’s Winston-Salem Journal:
The board’s meeting on the mandate veered quickly from contentious to unruly when a man crossed over a roped area where board members sit and was escorted from the room by security as some members in the audience jeered.
As the man continued to shout, causing disruption in the board chamber, Board Chairwoman Deanna Kaplan was forced to call for a five-minute recess in an effort to restore order. That upset some people in the audience, with one man yelling: “The patriots are coming!”
Another phrase that was heard in that meeting was “Bonds for the Win.”
“Bonds for the Win” was (maybe still is) an organization that attempted to file baseless claims against school district insurance policies in hopes of bullying them into submitting to the group’s will. All of this under the veneer of “saving the students.”
But the scare tactic has become a familiar one. A growing number of school districts across the country are facing similar challenges from parent activists who have adopted strategies and language that are well known to law enforcement and extremism experts who deal with far-right “sovereign citizen” groups in the U.S. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League call it “paper terrorism.”
The parents’ strategy is simple: Try to use obscure and often inapplicable legal claims to force a school district to make a policy change. And while the claims have no legal standing, they have been effective at spreading confusion and wasting school districts’ resources, even though the paperwork doesn’t require a formal legal response.
The parents and activists have organized through a new group called Bonds for the Win, which is named for a financial instrument at the heart of the pseudo-legal effort. The group’s members have spent the past two months bombarding school administrators with meritless claims over Covid policies and diversity initiatives. These claims allege that districts have broken the law and therefore owe parents money through what are called surety bonds, which government agencies often carry as liability insurance.
That’s exactly what happened that night in this school board meeting.
Bonds for the Win’s claims were not legitimate, according to education officials, insurance companies and the FBI. But even though the group had won no legal battles, it had already celebrated some successes in overwhelming districts with paperwork, intimidating local officials and disrupting school board meetings.
Add the CRT hoaxes, book banning efforts, and claims of indoctrination in schools and marry all of them to the already polarized political situation in our country and you get what happened last night occurring all over the country.
Imagine what this is teaching our students.
AND SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD SEATS IN NOVEMBER.