Republicans Demand Ed. Secretary Miguel Cardona Turn over Communications RE: NSBA Letter Targeting Parents

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

House Republicans have demanded Biden Education Secretary Miguel Cardona turn over all communications with the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the White House regarding the letter NSBA sent to President Joe Biden asking him to target parents at school board meetings as possible “domestic terrorists.”

In a letter to Cardona Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Republican leader of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who serves in the same capacity on the House Committee on Education and Labor, wrote both are:

[…] continuing to investigate the troubling attempts by the Biden Administration 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 was sent as Jordan also revealed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee received documents from a whistleblower that state the FBI is using counterterrorism tactics to investigate parents considered to be potential “domestic terrorists” as they voice concerns about their children’s education at local school board meetings.

Those documents, which assert the FBI is adding “threat tags” to parents, appear to contradict Garland’s testimony on October 21 during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in which he said the Department of Justice and the FBI were not using counterterrorism tools to investigate parents at school board meetings.

Jordan and Foxx reminded Cardona that, on October 1, he had testified during a Senate hearing “that parents should not be the ‘primary stakeholder’ in their children’s education.”

“At the time of your statement, the Biden Administration, including the Education Department, was colluding with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) to orchestrate federal law enforcement action against concerned parents,” they asserted.

The Republican lawmakers cited the NSBA letter to Biden in which the organization’s top officials, Viola M. Garcia, Ed.D., NSBA president, and Chip Slaven, Esq., NSBA interim executive director and CEO, wrote that “malice, violence, and threats” against school officials “could be the equivalent of a form of domestic terrorism or hate crimes.”

The NSBA letter suggested Biden utilize federal laws such as the Patriot Act to determine if parents voicing concerns about issues such as mask mandates and the teaching of tenets of Critical Race Theory could be identified as possible “domestic terrorists.”

“Most notably, as an example of domestic terrorism, the NSBA cited an incident in which a father angrily confronted members at a school board meeting in Loudoun County, Virginia, about the heinous sexual assault of his daughter,” Jordan and Foxx wrote, asserting:

Concerned parents voicing their strong opposition to controversial curricula at local schools are not domestic terrorists. Parents have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. When parents cross the line to commit a violent act or issue a criminal threat, state and local authorities are best-equipped to handle these violations of state law. We must not tolerate the Biden Administration’s collusion with a special interest group to use the federal law enforcement apparatus to intimidate and silence parents.

“The Education Department’s role in this ill-conceived effort to target concerned parents requires immediate congressional attention,” the two Republicans told Cardona, requesting all documents regarding communications with NSBA, DOJ, and the White House regarding the NSBA letter be sent to them no later than November 30.

Among the documents requested from Cardona are those “between or among Department of Education employees or staff and White House employees or staff regarding Viola Garcia’s appointment to the national Assessment Governing Board.”

Two weeks after NSBA sent its letter to Biden, the Education Department  announced October 13 it had appointed Garcia to the National Assessment Governing Board, a top position that provides oversight regarding which subjects students will be tested on in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

In emails obtained via a public records request, grassroots organization Parents Defending Education (PDE) discovered the White House was already “actively engaged” with NSBA’s Garcia and Slaven prior to the group’s letter to Biden.

In an internal memo, Garcia informed state association executive directors that a meeting had taken place with the White House on September 14, two weeks before the NSBA officials sent their letter to Biden.

“NSBA has been actively engaged with the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Surgeon General, and other federal agencies,” she wrote.

On October 4, Garland’s office announced a memorandum would be widely shared throughout the Department of Justice that Garland was ordering all U.S. Attorney Offices and local FBI offices to reach out to local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate efforts on the “disturbing trend” of threats by parents as described by NSBA within 30 days of the memorandum.

Since NSBA wrote its letter to Biden, PDE notes 26 state school boards associations have distanced themselves from NSBA.

Additionally, PDE observed 11 states have taken even further action by entirely cutting ties with NSBA or withdrawing their membership dues.

The NSBA’s own board of directors renounced the letter to Biden sent by Slaven and Garcia, writing on October 22 they “regret and apologize” for its content.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.