This testimony was send to the NH House HB108 Study Committee on October 4, 2021
Dear Chairman Wuelper:
I am writing to your committee with a sense of urgency and concern. On Sept. 29, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden asking him to direct the force of the FBI and Homeland Security against angry parents who are disrupting school board meetings to protest masks and Critical Race Theory arguing that their behavior “…could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crime.” (NSBA letter attached.) This letter purports to speak for all its members, the NH School Boards Association being one of them.
Already many school boards in NH have called upon the services of armed police officers to attend public meetings, subjecting parents to needless intimidation.
Public officials must be accountable to the public and this sometimes includes being in a room of angry parents who shout, protest, and sometimes swear. It is uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that those who suffer it would do much to avoid it – such as calling the police, abruptly adjourning meetings, and yes – transitioning the meeting to Zoom, which happened once not long ago at a Timberlane Regional School Board meeting in Plaistow.
A great many school board officials would use remote meetings to shield themselves from the uncomfortable presence of angry constituents. They would exaggerate the threat to their physical person to protect from the very real threat to their pride and judgment.
Please do not permit local elected officials to hide behind technology. It is important for a quorum of a body to be physically present at a public location to conduct public business, except during emergencies. Public participation may be done electronically. Some number of board members may participate electronically, with the current transparency provisions, but the regular use of remote meetings will lead to greater frustration with government and not less.
Thank you to you and the members of your committee for your important service. Please include this letter and the attached NSBA letter in the public record.