House Republicans are demanding the National School Boards Association hand over its communications with the White House, charging the parties colluded to prompt the Department of Justice to involve itself in local school controversies.
GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, the ranking member on the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee, was joined by 17 fellow Republicans in a letter directed to the leaders of the NSBA, including the organization’s president, Viola Garcia. It was Garcia who cosigned the controversial and since-withdrawn NSBA letter to President Joe Biden likening parents angry over woke curricula to "domestic terrorists."
“We are investigating the troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity,” House Republicans wrote on Wednesday.
Republicans believe the entire sequence, from the NSBA letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland's memo putting the FBI and other DOJ agencies on the case, was coordinated.
Garland revealed last week that DOJ and the White House communicated about the late September NSBA letter just before Garland issued his memo. Emails from the NSBA showed it was in touch with the White House about its letter prior to its publication.
Internal emails showed NSBA board members objected to sending the letter to Biden, and the school boards group withdrew and apologized for the letter the day after Garland’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday. In addition, several state chapters under the NSBA quit in outrage about the letter, which they said demonized concerned parents.
“The Biden Administration seemingly relied upon the NSBA letter — which it coordinated in advance with the NSBA — as justification to unleash the full weight of the federal law enforcement apparatus upon America’s parents,” the House GOP contended, adding, “Parents cannot tolerate this collusion between the NSBA and the Biden Administration to construct a justification for invoking federal law enforcement to intimidate and silence parents using their Constitutional rights to advocate for their child’s future.”
The Republicans asked NSBA to provide all documents and communications relevant to the saga as well as any communications related to the Biden administration picking Garcia to serve on the National Assessment Governing Board in early October. They also sought “any guidance issued by the NSBA regarding parental engagement at school board meetings.”
Garland doubled down on his memo during Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on Wednesday, arguing that NSBA’s follow-up apology “does not change the association’s concern about violence and threats of violence.”
The House Republicans noted Wednesday that NSBA’s letter “cited a number of interactions at school board meetings, the vast majority of which did not involve violence or threats.”
Garcia and Interim Director and CEO Chip Slaven both signed the letter to Biden, but seem to have kept other board members in the dark, with internal emails showing pushback from other board members.
Slaven emailed the NSBA board on Sept. 29 including a copy of the letter which would be sent to Biden, revealing that “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.”
Garcia also referenced communications with Biden officials in an Oct. 2 morning email to the board, saying, “These are troubling times. 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.”
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy