Following the National School Board Association's now-infamous letter that was sent to President Joe Biden more than a month ago requesting a federal investigation into threats against school board members, which likened parents to "domestic terrorists," newly obtained emails and memos have revealed that the country's largest school boards association was in contact with the White House and the Department of Justice for "weeks" leading up to the sending of the letter.
Viola Garcia, the president of the NSBA and who was recently appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, issued a memo to NSBA state association officers and executive directors outlining a number of topics and outlining the timeline of the NSBA's interaction with the White House. That mid-October memo was obtained by Parents Defending Education.
The memo was sent to NSBA members on Oct. 11, but was dated Oct. 12, regarding the letter they sent to Biden on Sept. 29. On Oct. 4, the DOJ issued a memo directing law enforcement to investigate threats to school boards. Following backlash, the NSBA issued an apology for the letter on Oct. 22.
"Concern over the current climate for school board members is also a top priority as disruptions at school board meetings grow and members face growing threats. 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 on pandemic related issues," the memo stated.
"In the September 14, 2021 meeting of the [NSBA Organization of State Association Executive Directors] liaison group, they were informed there had been a meeting with White House staff that morning and that NSBA was preparing to send a letter to the President, Subsequently, on September 17, 2021, the interim Executive Director emailed notice to the state association executive directors that indicated a letter requesting federal assistance would be sent," the memo continued.
That notice issued on Sept. 17 stated that the NSBA is taking a number of actions in regards to class for protection and resources. It also stated that a letter had been drafted and would be shared with those that received the email notice.
"In response to the letter sent by NSBA, on October 4, 2021 the Attorney General announced in a memorandum widely shared throughout the U.S. Department of Justice that he 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 this problem within 30 days of the memorandum," the memo stated.
Following the letter and the DOJ's call to action, Attorney General Merrick Garland testified to Congress on Oct. 27 stating that the DOJ memorandum did not rely upon the NSBA's letter.
"The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association's concern of violence or threats of violence. It alters some of the language in the letter … that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum," Garland said.
In an email sent to Fox News, it was revealed that Garcia and NSBA executive Chip Slaven had discussed the issues with the White House "for weeks" and that they altered the text to satisfy White House staff.
"In talks over the last several weeks with White House staff, they requested additional information on some of the specific threats, so the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring," Slaven wrote in a Sept. 29 email to the NSBA board of directors.
Following the NSBA's letter to Biden, a number of parent and teacher organizations and states with NSBA memberships issued statements against the language used in the letter, with 11 states discontinuing their membership with the association.