NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Because of a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff, the Department of Justice says it is committing new resources to stamp it out.

Tennessee has been the center of national news at times during the pandemic.

As students returned back to in-person learning with COVID-19 protocols being considered there’s been an increased focus on local school boards with some ending in threats.

Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, says he welcomes the investigations by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“First of all let’s think about this,” he said. “People are threatening teachers for doing their jobs for trying to protect their kids to keep their kids from getting a infectious disease.”

Dixie says he would like to see the department quickly examine from the top down who’s behind the rise in threats.

“I think the FBI has plenty of documentation already from high profile incidents with cell phones. We’ve seen it all over social media so there should be some swift action,” Dixie said.

In East Tennessee, an anti-school masking group called on members of the community to bring the district to a halt and block entrances to schools.

“Well, we’ll have to see what he wants to investigate, but if he’s wanting to go about protesting and rioters then maybe he should go after some of those in some other states,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

The speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives says the attorney general should not be using politics to go after innocent people.

“You’re allowed to voice your opinion in America, last time I checked, and I haven’t seen it get rough like it did back in the riots in Seattle, Oregon and other places,” Sexton said.

Gov. Bill Lee avoided questions about the Department of Justice’s newest initiative.

The attorney general has instructed each United States attorneys general to convene meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement within 30 days to address the threats.