Newly publicized emails reveal that the National School Boards Association consulted with the Biden administration when crafting a letter that critics believe likened activism of concerned parents to “domestic terrorism.”
Emails obtained by the advocacy group Parents Defending Education in a Freedom of Information Act request demonstrate that the leadership of the National School Boards Association had “been engaged with the White House for several weeks” leading up to the organization’s Sept. 29 letter.
The letter asked the U.S. Department of Justice to mobilize law enforcement agencies to respond to “threats and acts of violence against public schoolchildren, public school board members, and other public school district officials and educators.”
The letter faced criticism for citing the aforementioned “threats and acts of violence” as actions of “domestic terrorism.” While some school board members across the nation have opened up about threats they have faced from angry residents, critics believe the request to get federal law enforcement involved is unwarranted and an attempt to silence parents.
Specific examples of concerning actions listed included the disruption of school board meetings “because of local directives for mask coverings to protect students and educators from COVID-19,” the incitement of “chaos” at school board meetings by “anti-mask proponents” and the confrontation of school boards by “angry mobs” that have led boards to “end meetings abruptly.”
In an Oct. 2 email, National School Boards Association President Viola Garcia told 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.”
In a Sept. 29 email to members of the NSBA Board of Directors, Interim Executive Director Chip Slaven noted that in discussion over the last several weeks, White House staff had “requested additional information on some of the specific threats.”
“[S]o the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring,” Slaven wrote.
Five days after the NSBA sent the letter to the White House, the Department of Justice published a memorandum. The document directed “the Federal Bureau of Investigations, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders within 30 days” to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff.”
Members of Congress asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland questions about the memo Thursday.
“As someone who was born in the Soviet Union, I am … disturbed, very disturbed, by the use of the Department of Justice as a political tool, and its power as the police state to suppress lawful public discourse,” Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., said in a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
“The FBI is starting to resemble old KGB with secret warrantless … surveillance, wiretapping and intimidation of citizens.”
Describing the school board letter as “the latest example,” Spartz recalled that “during the Soviet era, the United States criticized use of the domestic terrorism concept in the USSR as a tool to suppress free speech and political dissent.”
However, Garland pushed back, saying that "true threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment."
"Those are the things we are worried about here," Garland said. "Those are the only things we are worried about here. We are not investigating peaceful protests or parent involvement in school board meetings. There is no precedent for doing that and we would never do that. We are only concerned about violence and threats of violence against school administrators, teachers, staff."
The NSBA Board of Directors was first informed of the letter on Sept. 29, the day it was sent, which did not sit well with one of its members.
In a Sept. 29 email to Slaven, John Halkias, the director of the NSBA’s Central Region, shared his belief that “the Board of Directors should have been consulted before a letter like this was sent out publicly, and no less to the President of the United States and the National Press.”
“I also agree that the letter took a stance that went beyond what many of us would consider to be reasonable and used terms that were extreme, and asked for action by the Federal Government that many of us would not request,” he added. “In fact in a recent press conference, the White House Press Secretary stated that when these incidents occur, it is a matter for local law enforcement and local authorities, and NOT the federal government.”
Halkias insisted that “local control has been a stalwart of our principles and we do not want to abandon that concept now.”
The discussion about alleged “domestic terrorism” at school board meetings comes as the school district in Loudoun County, Virginia, continues to face allegations of a cover-up following the sexual assaults of two teenage girls at two separate high schools in the district perpetrated by the same trans-identified male.
The first sexual assault, which occurred on May 28 at Stone Bridge High School, occurred as the district was considering implementing a policy that would allow trans-identified students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex.
At the June 22 Loudoun County School Board meeting, the transgender bathroom policy became a source of contention. A handful of parents, including the father of the sexual assault victim, faced arrest after the meeting was declared an unlawful public assembly.
On Aug. 10, former State Sen. Dick Black spoke outside the Loudoun County School Board meeting, informing a crowd of protesters that the sexual assault took place.
“There was a father who was getting up to speak after me. He was being harassed by several transgender advocates, people who knew that his daughter at Stone Bridge High School had … one of these guys wearing a girls’ dress go into the girls’ bathroom and forcibly sodomize her.”
“They knew that his daughter had been forcibly sodomized, pushed to the ground, beaten to the ground and then abused. They knew it and they deliberately tried to harass him,” Black said.
After a heated confrontation with an LGBT activist at the meeting, the father was arrested. His arrest was one of the examples cited in the Sept. 29 NSBA letter to Biden.
Eight weeks later, the father of the May 28 sexual assault victim was informed that the same perpetrator sexually assaulted another teenage girl in an empty classroom at Broad Run High School. From there, he decided to go public with his story after previously staying silent on the advice of legal counsel. The Daily Wire first reported on the dual sexual assaults last week.
An email obtained by local news outlet WTOP revealed that Superintendent Scott Ziegler informed the board members that a sexual assault took place at Stone Bridge High School on the day of the incident.
“This afternoon a female student alleged that a male student sexually assaulted her in the restroom,” he wrote. “The [Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office] is investigating the matter.”
The email did not mention that the perpetrator of the assault was trans-identified. It did note that “the female student’s parent responded to the school and caused a disruption by using threatening and profane language that was overheard by staff and students.”
In response to backlash from parents and parent groups, Ziegler issued an apology last week. He told parents: “I regret that my comments were misleading and I apologize for the distress they caused families.”
Concerns about bathroom policies are not the only issues causing parents to speak out forcefully at school board meetings. Parents and community members in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Hudson, Ohio, have chastised their respective school boards for allowing the inclusion of sexually explicit material they characterized as child pornography in high school libraries and college-level English courses.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org