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Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona met with principals on Monday, April 25. Photo: Getty Images
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona met with principals on Monday, April 25. Photo: Getty Images

Cardona meets with principals amid high hostility towards administrators and teachers

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has long called on the Biden administration to ban hostile parents and others from school grounds.

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On Monday, April 25, school principals met with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to discuss how to best navigate education in the post-COVID world.

The meeting between the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and Cardona comes months after the group urged the Biden administration to “ban hostile parents and individuals from school grounds who threaten our safety.”

Throughout the pandemic, conflicts over masks, quarantines, vaccines, critical race theory and transgender rights have shaken American public schools. School leaders across the country have raised concerns about the growing number of threats to teachers, principals, and school board members as some parents cross the line between disagreement and violence.

Faculty officers complained that they had been going through threats for “simply trying to follow the health and scientific safety guidance that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments are issuing.”

Dr. Teresa M. Hill, principal of Walden Grove High School in Arizona told NBC News about an incident that occurred early in 2021. Seven people refused to leave campus until a quarantined student was allowed to attend class.

“After a lockdown of the front office for three hours, we were forced to arrest three of them,” Hill said. 

After the incident, Hill was harassed with threatening and intimidating voice, email and social media messages, with some calling her a “Nazi,” and telling her to end her life. 

In response to this concerning level of hostility against educators and school administrators, NASSP has requested that the federal government intervene. The group asked the Department of Education to issue specific guidance to help school leaders protect themselves in the highly emotionally charged environment. 

"We need the full authority of the federal government to help us remove or ban threatening individuals from our schools who are determined to do nothing more than disrupt learning or potentially harm us or our staff," NASSP CEO Ronn Nozoe said in a statement. 

The National Education Association and National Federation of Teachers (NEA), the country's top teachers unions, backed the calls to protect educators against violence and harassment. 

"Our school principals work to help keep students and staff safe. They shouldn't have to endure harassment and violence for doing their jobs," NEA wrote in a tweet on Sep. 17, 2021. 

The following month, the Justice Department launched an effort to combat what it called an “increase in violence against school officials and teachers” across the country. 

"Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. 

Cardona and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten met with NASSP representatives Monday to kick off their Trailblazing Leadership Week in Washington, D.C. at the U.S Department of Education.

Principals relayed how they are meeting students’ academic needs and using funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to help with the post-COVID recovery.

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