Fourteen states, led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, have sued the federal government to find out if the administration colluded with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) last fall to create a pretext for the Department of Justice to investigate parent protests at school board meetings as “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
The last couple years have marked a significant rise in parental concern over what’s happening in schools around the country. Everything from teaching critical race theory (CRT) and pushing policies that promote gender confusion, to questionable sex-ed curriculum choices, to masks and remote learning related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the parental angst boiled over into angry school board meetings.
The Mama Bear Movement has sparked a growing presence of concerned parents at school board meetings, which typically pits conservative, often Christian, parents against leftist and woke ideology of left-leaning school board members.
Things came to a head on October 4, 2021, when U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote a memo to the director of the FBI and various federal prosecutors around the country authorizing investigations into parent protests, equating them with harassment, intimidation and threats of violence.
The situation went from bad to worse, however, when it was revealed that the NSBA had written a letter to President Biden on September 29, 2021, at the request of Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asking the federal government to invoke the PATRIOT Act and the federal hate crimes law to investigate parent protests as “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” AG Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee on October 21, 2021, that the NSBA letter prompted his October 4 memo.
When all that became public, concerned state attorneys general decided to look into why the administration was colluding with the NSBA to provoke a federal investigation of parents.
On October 26, 2021, 17 states wrote a letter to AG Garland and President Biden protesting the administration’s targeting of concerned parents, and invoked the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request all documents related to communications between the NSBA and the White House and other federal agencies, including the Department of Education.
After acknowledging receipt of the FOIA request, however, the Department of Justice has mostly ignored it ever since, even though FOIA requires the government to respond within 30 days to a document request. That failure to respond prompted the 14-state lawsuit against the federal government, asking the federal courts to order the government to respond to the request.
“More than thirty days (not including weekends and federal holidays) have lapsed since the Defendants acknowledged receipt of the States’ FOIA requests,” the federal lawsuit alleges. “The Defendants have failed to meet the statutory deadline for their response in the form of a determination to the FOIA request dated October 26, 2021. Because they have failed to respond within thirty (30) days (not including weekends and federal holidays) they are in violation of the FOIA.”
The public furor raised by the Garland memo quickly caused a backlash against the NSBA, which has since apologized for the White House letter to its member state organizations, many of whom were in the dark about the intent of the national organization to complain to the president about parents at school board meetings. Many of the state organizations have since disassociated from the NSBA in protest.
The case is Indiana v. Biden.
Photo from Reuters.