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Supreme Court of the United States

FOIA Request Suggests ED Secretary Solicited NSBA Letter Comparing Parents to Domestic Terrorists

By Neal Hardin posted on:
January 18, 2022

Evidence continues to mount that the White House and the federal educational establishment are becoming increasingly hostile to parents voicing their concerns about critical race theory, gender theory, and COVID-related mandates in public schools.

On October 4, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo directing the FBI and the Department of Justice to convene meetings with federal, state, local, and tribal leaders in every federal judicial district to discuss strategies for addressing “threats” posed to school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.

The source of these “threats” appeared to be parents who had been objecting to the politicization of education through the teaching of destructive ideologies such as critical race theory (CRT) and gender theory, as well as the frustration surrounding shifting COVID-related mandates in public schools.

ADF General Counsel Kristen Waggoner sent this letter in response to that memo.

The Attorney General was later questioned by Congress on October 21, insisting the directive was focused solely on threats of violence toward local public officials. However, he failed to provide evidence that a nationwide threat existed that would warrant the deployment of federal law enforcement agencies or national security tools to investigate domestic terrorism.

But recently, new evidence has emerged from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona may have solicited the now-retracted NSBA letter comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists.

In an email obtained through the FOIA request, the interim executive director of the NSBA wrote that he “told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cordona [sic].” A Department of Education spokesperson has since denied that Cardona solicited the NSBA letter. If the story is true, however, it could indicate that the DOJ letter issued by Garland was a more coordinated effort by the White House than it first appeared.

ADF is committed to protecting the fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children. Parents should be free to be involved in local school board meetings and not live in fear that they might be investigated or punished by the federal government for expressing their concerns.

As Kristen Waggoner wrote to Attorney General Garland,

“No one condones threats, violence or abusive behavior toward school board members. And yes, some parents, in anger and frustration, have engaged in abusive or otherwise inappropriate behavior toward school officials. But those actions fall within the jurisdiction of local law enforcement…

Parents expressing concern over CRT, gender theory, and COVID-related mandates in public schools do not qualify as “domestic terrorists.” Their protests do not warrant the involvement of federal law enforcement or the application of federal laws aimed at stopping, among others, transnational terror organizations. Employing those powerful national security tools against frustrated parents is a misuse of federal power. It vilifies largely peaceful, well-intentioned citizens who are seeking nothing more than to protect and promote the well-being of their children. And it chills the constitutionally protected speech of those who rightly object to ill-considered policies implementing radical ideologies like critical theory, and debatable COVID-19 mandates on our nation’s schoolchildren.”

For more information about ADF’s work related to parental rights, check out our parental rights page below.


Neal Hardin

Neal Hardin

Neal Hardin serves as Digital Writer for Alliance Defending Freedom

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