Feb 23, 2022 - News

"Paper terrorism" spreads to Ankeny schools

Illustration of a computer wearing a bandit's mask.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Ankeny school district is one of the latest victims of "paper terrorism" — a tactic that inundates districts with unsubstantiated legal claims in an effort to get them to change their policies.

Driving the news: Members of fringe conservative group Bonds for the Win are filing baseless claims against school districts nationwide, alleging they're violating everything from local health laws to the U.S. Constitution, according to a report by NBC News.

What's happening: The burdensome tactic, which groups like The Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League have coined as "paper terrorism," plays out like this:

  • The group makes exaggerated claims and overwhelms districts with paperwork, saying things like COVID mitigation, school library books and diversity initiatives violate their rights.
  • Then they claim the district owes parents money, focusing on surety bonds, which are used by school districts as liability insurance.
  • Members falsely assert they can file claims themselves and demand financial payment from the schools' insurance companies.

Zoom in: As recent as the Feb. 15 school board meeting, Stacy Pierce, an Ankeny resident, falsely claimed the district was violating a litany of state and federal codes.

  • Pierce demanded that board members share their "bond information," telling them, "You're all on notice."
  • At a previous meeting, he "served" them insurance claims and demanded two school board members resign, the district remove all critical race theory materials and books with "pedophilia."

Between the lines: Pierce is a known fringe activist in Ankeny, but his actions still caused a disturbance — resulting in the school requesting additional police presence because he wrote on a conservative site that "good men may have to do bad things," NBC reported.

Of note: Bonds for the Win didn't respond to NBC's request for comment.

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