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Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, There have been angry responses from some parents to Covid rules in schools

The US Department of Justice is seeking to combat a "disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence" against school teachers and board members from angry parents.

Attorney General Merrick B Garland said the FBI would be discussing strategies to address the problem.

Official figures have not been given on threats and violence towards teachers.

However, angry responses from some parents to Covid rules in schools have been reported:

  • In Arizona last month, three men were charged with trespassing after threatening to arrest an elementary school principal with zip ties over Covid rules for students
  • In August, parents in Texas ripped off one teacher's face mask and demanded another remove hers, according to the school system's superintendent

There has also been a backlash from some parents over the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.

  • EXPLAINER: Critical race theory: the concept dividing the US

"Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values," Attorney General Garland said in a statement.

"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."

He directed the FBI and US attorneys' offices to meet law enforcement leaders in the next 30 days to discuss strategies for addressing the "disturbing trend".

The department will also give training that "will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behaviour that constitutes threats" and how to report threatening conduct.

The National School Boards Association praised the justice department's "strong message to individuals with violent intent".

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