May 5, 2022 - News

Minnesota school boards see unprecedented wave of resignations

Illustration of red and blue broken pencils.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

An unprecedented number of Minnesota school board members are resigning amid an increase in harassment and violent threats from constituents, The 74 reports.

The big picture: Heated debates over issues such as masking and how race is taught in schools have sparked backlash against school board members across the nation.

What's happening here: More than 100 of the state's 2,200 elected school board members have left their posts since the start of the 2020 school year, according to the Minnesota School Boards Association.

  • At least 26 have stepped down since January, including six in the last month alone.

Driving the departures: For some, the rhetoric and targeted harassment, which can include threats of violence, has become unbearable.

  • One exiting Minneapolis member saw protesters picket his home and post flyers of his face on lampposts. A Hastings school board chair had to move after opponents outed her child as transgender.

What they're saying: "The hate is too much," Pam Lindberg, a former Robbinsdale School Board member, said. "Continued permission the community members give themselves to say whatever they want and however they want is oppressive, it's demeaning and damaging."

Of note: The trend is also rocking small towns and rural areas. The Brainerd Public School Board had to ask police to attend meetings after anonymous threats.

  • "In a small town like this, that's just never happened," former Chair Bob Nystrom said. "This is scary, that you have to have a police officer in the meeting to protect you."

What to watch: Some experts and local officials worry that a "downturn in civility" is going to make it more difficult to recruit people to run and serve in these posts.

Read the full story via our partners at The 74.

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