Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated in a Senate Judiciary oversight hearing on Wednesday that the Department of Justice will keep targeting parents even after the National School Boards Association walked back the inflammatory language contained in its letter demanding that the Biden administration intervene.
The NSBA released a statement last week expressing “regret” for sending the letter and even admitted that “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter.”
“Your memo mentions that the national security division will get involved in school board investigations. Is the Justice Department national security division really necessary for keeping local school boards safe if parents aren’t domestic terrorists?” Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley asked. “Why is the national security division involved at all? This kind of looks like something that would come out of some communist country.”
Garland claimed the memo he publicized is focused on “violence and threats of violence” but did not commit to rescinding the memo nor disavowing the involvement of federal law enforcement in local issues.
Earlier in the hearing, Grassley accused Garland of moving the DOJ “as far left as it can go” and targeting “parents [who] are trying to protect their children.” The Republican also criticized the DOJ for refusing to answer GOP members’ letters, questions, and demands even though Garland previously promised to be transparent in his confirmation hearing.
In a House Judiciary hearing last week, Garland admitted that the basis for targeting and potentially charging parents concerned about what their children are learning in schools with domestic terrorism was the official letter from the NSBA, not real evidence.
“When did you first review the data showing this so-called disturbing uptick?” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan asked.
“I read the letter, and we have been seeing over time—” Garland began before Jordan interrupted him.
“So you read the letter? That’s your source?” Jordan asked incredulously. “Is there some study, some effort, some investigation someone did that, said there’s been a disturbing uptick, or you just take the words of the National School Board Association?”
Garland then confirmed it wasn’t until the NSBA contacted him that his department began to investigate claims of violence and terrorism.
“Well, the National School Board Association, which represents thousands of school boards and school board members, says that there are these kinds of threats,” Garland said.
The NSBA sent a letter to the Biden administration last month begging for federal law enforcement to use domestic terrorism laws to target parents who oppose anti-science mask mandates for children and the infiltration of racist curriculum in schools. The NSBA claimed that federal action was warranted to “deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”
Most of the incident examples the NSBA used to justify intervention by the Biden administration did not escalate to a level that even yielded arrests or charges on the local level, yet mere days after the letter was sent, Garland directed the FBI and state attorneys to address “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”
Dozens of state school board associations reported that they were not consulted before the NSBA sent its letter to the administration and some have even voted to withdraw their membership from the national chapter whose President Viola Garcia and CEO Chip Slaven colluded with the White House before releasing their official demands. The emails also show that the NSBA’s board of directors, much like the state school board associations, were not consulted about the plea before it was made public.