Newly obtained internal emails reveal that the National School Boards Association (NSBA) coordinated extensively with the Biden administration before releasing the infamous letter that equated concerned parents with domestic terrorists.
Obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Protect the Public's Trust, and reviewed by the Washington Examiner, the emails detail the degree to which the NSBA consulted with the White House and the Department of Education (DOE) before asking the Biden administration to use the Patriot Act to investigate parents protesting at school board meetings.
"We ask that the federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials," the September 2021 letter read. "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."
While the school boards association later apologized for the letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo on Oct. 4, 2021, directing law enforcement to investigate threats to school boards.
NSBA emails obtained in January also show that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona requested the letter from the organization. Cardona denied soliciting it in a statement to the Washington Examiner.
In the newly released emails, then-NSBA head Chip Slaven communicated to White House official Mary Wall on Sept. 21, 2021, that the organization was planning to send the letter – more than a week before it did so.
Wall forwarded the email to several White House and DOE staff members.
"As I indicated last week, NSBA is also planning to send the President a letter requesting federal assistance to help school board members and public schools manage these threats," Slaven wrote to Wall. "We hope to have that letter ready to go by Thursday."
Protect the Public's Trust is seeking the Justice Department's communications with the NSBA and has filed a lawsuit to force the agency to comply with its FOIA request.
Michael Chamberlain, Protect the Public's Trust executive director, told the Washington Examiner that the emails are a snapshot of the federal government's efforts to silence parents.
"This is a sad episode in a very frightening tale — a government ostensibly of the people, by the people, and for the people turning on its own people, turning on parents trying to protect their kids," Chamberlain said. "The documents we have uncovered in this lawsuit provide even more evidence that the federal government was a participant in creating a narrative to justify lowering that bar and chill the exercise of those rights."
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