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Rockwood parents organize to support school board in battle over critical race theory

"The silent majority is not silent anymore," said one parent who spoke up in support of the board

EUREKA, Mo. — Since at least last spring, the Rockwood School District board has heard from a lot of parents — many upset by what they believe is critical race theory hidden in the curriculum. 

But Thursday night, a different group of parents showed up with a different message for the board. 

"The silent majority is not silent anymore," said Michelle Anselmo with the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, a group that describes itself as a "grassroots organization that promotes an equitable community by supporting anti-bias and anti-racist approaches to education."

Anselmo was one of several parents who spoke up in support of the board. They said what may have started as a debate has devolved into threats against district employees. 

"Just this week, we had references to lynching directed at our student services support director," said Anselmo. "And it's inappropriate and we're here to say it's not going to be tolerated."  

The district confirms it has hired security for some staff members because of threats online and in person.

In other states around the country, threats have been captured on video.

This week, the Biden administration ordered the FBI to work with local law enforcement to, "facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators ... (and) open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response."

That's a red flag for Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

"You're using the FBI to intervene in school board meetings," Hawley said to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in an unrelated hearing. "That's extraordinary."

"Senator, I have to respectfully disagree," Monaco responded. "The attorney general's memorandum made quite clear that violence is not appropriate."

"The (Department of Justice) getting involved puts another tool in our toolbox to put an end to this type of behavior. No one's free speech is under attack," said Anselmo. "There are voices of common sense and reason who want to come to the table and discuss things."