Newly released emails reveal that a controversial letter likening parents to domestic terrorists for raising concerns about the material their children were exposed to in public schools was crafted at the request of U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
A chain of emails released by the advocacy group Parents Defending Education on Tuesday documented a conversation between two National School Boards Association members, Marnie Maldonado and Kristi Swett.
The conversation took place on Oct. 5-6, 2021, after the leadership of the National School Boards Association wrote a letter to President Joe Biden asking for “federal assistance to stop threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators.”
The Sept. 29 letter sought to label parents as “angry mobs” for speaking out against masking their children at schools and raising concerns about materials promoting trans activism, pedophilia, and critical race theory. Parents' disagreements with school board members at meetings were to be classified by federal agencies as “heinous actions [that] could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
In an Oct. 5 email to Swett, a member of the NSBA leadership, Maraldo inquired as to whether the NSBA letter to Biden violated the board’s procedure outlining the emergency powers of the NSBA’s Executive Committee.
The policy states that “when it is not feasible or possible for the board to meet, the Executive Committee shall have general authority to act for the board on policy decisions or to make statements on public issues subject to the constraint that the decisions or statements are within the limits of and consistent with the NSBA beliefs and policies and constitution and bylaws.”
Additionally, the policy stresses that “such authority to act for the board shall be taken only when the Executive Committee has declared an emergency and determined that it is not possible or feasible for the board to meet as an assembled body, by telephone or by mail.” It also requires the Executive Committee to inform members of the NSBA of “any emergency action of the Executive Committee within 24 hours.”
“I am very concerned about the process by which the statement was made and the tone that essentially allowed the White House to direct the Attorney General to consider members of our community ‘domestic terrorists,’” Maraldo wrote. “I agree that we need to focus on civility, and we should be looking to our local law enforcement to protect board members and deal with threats of violence. I would have appreciated an opportunity to work with my fellow board members to give better direction on this very delicate topic.”
Swett responded to Maraldo on Oct. 6, telling her: “I didn’t think the letter fell under an emergency situation, it certainly was not characterized that way when [then-NSBA Interim Executive Director] Chip [Slaven] told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cardona.”
Swett’s reply indicates that Cardona was involved in the development of the letter, which was written as parents descended on school board meetings to express their outrage about the sexually explicit material available in high school libraries and curriculum. Parents have also expressed opposition to the teaching of critical race theory in public schools at school board meetings.
The NSBA letter, combined with a memorandum published by the U.S. Department of Justice five days later that asked federal law enforcement agencies to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff,” resulted in considerable backlash.
A group of parents filed a lawsuit against the DOJ over its memo and many state affiliates cut ties with the NSBA in the weeks that followed the letter’s publication. The Minnesota School Board Association was the most recent to terminate its membership with the NBSA.
The debate about parents’ role in their children’s education impacted the outcome of state and local elections in November. The 1776 Project PAC, which endorsed school board candidates opposed to CRT, reported that a majority of the candidates it endorsed emerged victorious in their races. In the Virginia gubernatorial election, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who declared: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The chain of emails released Tuesday is not the first indication that the Biden administration was involved in the development of the Sept. 29 letter. Parents Defending Education previously obtained an Oct. 2 email where NSBA President Viola Garcia informed members of the organization’s Board of Directors that “NSBA has been engaged with the White House and the Department of Education on these and other issues related to the pandemic for several weeks now.”
The same chain of emails, released by Parents Defending in Education in October, includes an email sent by Slaven to NSBA board members with the letter attached. Slaven spoke of “talks over the last several weeks with White House staff,” noting that “they requested additional information on some of the specific threats.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org