The Palo Alto school board's strong criticisms of how the federal Office for Civil Rights went about investigating cases of bullying in the district are being trumpeted online by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as part of its political lobbying to curtail what it says is "federal intrusion" into local schools.
The NSBA's top legislative priority, according to its website, is passage of legislation to stop the Department of Education from "overstepping its authority" and "to address federal intrusion in local school district decision-making and policymaking" under the Obama Administration.
The NSBA website excerpts a Palo Alto Weekly story and quotes the June 3, 2014, memo written to the Palo Alto Board of Education by board President Barbara Mitchell, Vice President Melissa Baten Caswell and Superintendent Kevin Skelly that refers to the national legislation and advocates passage of the board resolution.
The resolution, which contains a long list of grievances the district has with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, will be voted on at the school board meeting Tuesday evening, June 17.
The House bill (H.R. 1386) being advocated by the National School Boards Association and referenced in the colleagues memo was introduced in February 2013 by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) and is co-sponsored by 42 other Republicans and one Democrat.
As described on the NSBA's website, the goal of the bill "is to ensure that the benefits of local school district governance are not eroded through activities by the U.S. Department of Education not specifically envisioned by Congressional legislation."
The bill has not moved since being introduced, but the NSBA has been asking local school boards to urge their local members of Congress to support it.
Last Tuesday, the day the Palo Alto board discussed its resolution, Republican Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) introduced the same bill (S. 2451) in the Senate. According to an NSBA press release, the bill would "curb overreach by (the Department of Education) on issues that impact local school districts unless specifically authorized in federal legislation."
The NSBA's website suggested the following "talking points" for local school board members:
The U.S. Department of Education has taken action to reshape the educational delivery system in recent years. These actions have often affected local policy and programs in ways that are beyond the scope and intent of federal authorizing legislation.
These federal actions often place a significant financial and manpower responsibility on local school boards.
The actions also limit the flexibility of local school boards to make decisions that serve the best interests for their local districts.
NSBA drafted a bill to address such federal intrusion in local school district decision- and policy-making (S. 2451 and H.R. 1386). Please contact your members of Congress to ask them to support this bill.
Analysis: Palo Alto school board set to vote on challenging OCR (June 14, 2014)
Editorial: A sadly misguided board (June 6, 2014)
In unanimous comments, school board challenges federal agency (June 4, 2014)
School leaders fire back at feds (May 31, 2014)
Feds: School district violated student's civil rights (Feb. 8, 2013)