After the National School Board Association called on the Biden administration to take action against unruly parents who keep showing up at school board meetings, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland has taken up the cause against parents. The NSBA encouraged the Biden administration to classify the actions of concerned parents as "the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
The letter from the NSBA was sent to President Biden last week. "America's public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threat," the letter read, saying that the NSBA "respectfully asks for federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats and violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation."
The letter from the NSBA cites incidents of impassioned parents who have become aggressive at school board meetings, writing that "As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
"As such," it continues, "NSBA requests a joint expedited review by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Homeland Security, along with the appropriate training, coordination, investigations, and enforcement mechanisms from the FBI, including any technical assistance necessary from, and state and local coordination with, its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division, as well as any other federal agency with relevant jurisdictional authority and oversight."
Garland's DOJ, which has stated that a primary concern is domestic extremism, wrote that the FBI and US Attorney's Offices will meet during the next month with law enforcement leaders across the country "to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend."
"Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values," Garland said as part of the announcement. "Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety."
Garland didn't mention the number of incidents across the country of school boards and school administrators who have not paid any attention to parents concerns, either about critical race and gender theory or as regards COVID-inspired restrictions that have closed schools, isolated students, and stifled the education of a generation of American students.
"The Justice Department will launch a series of additional efforts in the coming days designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel," the DOJ said.
And no efforts could be complete with the "creation of a task force." This task force will have members "from the department's Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service and the Office of Justice Programs," and it will be used "to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes, and ways to assist" law enforcement in holding parents who want a say in their children's education in the face of recalcitrant school boards to account.
There will also be "specialized training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators" so that school boards and "other potential victims" can "understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes."
The DOJ offered a phone number where people can report "Threats of violence against school board members, officials, and workers in our nation’s public schools."
Update: The Associated Press weighed in on the matter, stating that the claim that "The National School Boards Association is asking the Biden administration to label parents who protest school policies domestic terrorists" was "false." The AP said that the NSBA was not asking the Biden administration to label angry, concerned parents as "terrorists," but was instead asking for an investigation into threats that "could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a memo that he is "directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response."