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Anger and threats have Ohio school board members worried

 A student wears a mask in class at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021
Dan Koni
Statehouse News Bureau
A student wears a mask in class at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021

Ohio is among the states mentioned in a letter to President Biden from the National School Boards Association, asking for federal help in protecting board members, teachers and students against potential violence.

There are concerns being raised by schools and board members across the state about backlash from mask mandates and other issues.

The Nordonia School Board in northeast Ohio enacted a mask mandate in August, and sheriff’s deputies were called over the tension when people refused to wear masks at another meeting two weeks later.

Lynn May is the vice president of the Dublin City School Board and is running for her fifth four-year term.

“Hostility is what it is. It seems like we’ve lost our way as a country. Everyone thinks it’s ok to be nasty and mean and shout and rude and offensive. What happened to civility?” May said.

May said she’s talked to members of school boards who’ve received threatening letters.

“It seems to be organized – someone sending the same letter out to the school board president and the superintendent and we’re just turning it over, but I hope someone puts the pieces together to figure out what’s going on.”

May said she's not personally worried, but she does wonder about the impact on people who might be considering running for school boards, or who aren't as experienced as she is.

A member of the Worthington school board said some attendees displayed Nazi symbolism at a recent meeting in that district.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.