On Wednesday, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the top executives of the National School Boards Association, asking for their help in the GOP’s investigation into what they called the “troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity.”
The letter began by saying that on September 29, 2021, “the NSBA sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting help from the federal government with concerned parents voicing their opinions at school board meetings. The NSBA letter stated that ‘malice, violence, and threats’ against school officials ‘could be the equivalent of a form of domestic terrorism or hate crimes.’ The letter cited a number of interactions at school board meetings, the vast majority of which did not involve violence or threats. Notably, as one ‘example’ of alleged domestic terrorism, the NSBA cited an instance in Loudoun County, Virginia, where a father angrily confronted members at a school board meeting about the heinous sexual assault of his daughter.”
“On October 4, 2021, a mere five days after the NSBA sent its letter to President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued an unusual memorandum that directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to address the ‘disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence’ at school board meetings,” the GOP letter stated.
“In a press release publicizing the memorandum, the Justice Department indicated its directive would ‘open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response by law enforcement’—in other words, a snitch line for complaints about concerned parents,” the GOP letter pronounced.
The GOP letter referred to remarks Garland made on October 21, 2021, in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, when Garland acknowledged that the DOJ relied on the NSBA letter for issuing the memo. “A news report also published on October revealed that the NSBA communicated with the White House about the September 29 letter prior to its transmission,” said the GOP letter.
The GOP letter referenced a September 29 email from the NSBA Interim Executive Director & CEO, Chip Slaven, in which he wrote, “[I]n talks over the last several weeks with White House staff, they requested additional information on some of the specific threats, so the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring.” The GOP letter also referenced NSBA President Dr. Viola Garcia writing on October 2 that the NSBA had “been engaged with the White House and Department of Education . . . for several weeks now.”
Garcia was appointed by the Biden administration to be one of five members of a federal education advisory board on October 13.
The GOP letter asserted:
Parents have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, including expressing concerns about the inclusion of controversial curricula in their child’s education. Unsurprisingly, the NSBA’s September 29 letter to President Biden never once mentioned “parents” or parents’ role in their children’s education—although its subsequent apology memorandum purported to value the “voices of parents.
Concerned parents are absolutely not domestic terrorists and, to the extent actual threats exist, local law enforcement— and not the FBI—are the appropriate authorities to address those situations. Parents cannot tolerate this collusion between the NSBA and the Biden Administration to construct a justification for invoking federal law enforcement to intimidate and silence parents using their Constitutional rights to advocate for their child’s future.
The GOP letter concluded with a request for the NSBA to produce various documents to assist their investigation.
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