For months, parents in school districts across the United States have been attending school board meetings to speak up for their children. The topics on which these parents speak are numerous; some are protesting mask mandates, while others are speaking out on certain curriculum changes. While some of the most broadcast parental protests have taken place in Loudoun County, VA, other protests in California and Florida are also receiving attention.
While violence at these volatile school board meetings has been at a minimum, verbal outbursts and potential threats to board members by parents has prompted the involvement of the United States Attorney General, Merrick Garland. The Department of Justice, at the behest of Garland, released a memo that has both shocked and dismayed parents across the United States.
Garland’s memo set forth a dictum regarding investigating “violence, threats, harassment and intimidation against school officials,” including the members of the local school board. The memo was drafted and released after the National School Board Association sent a letter to Washington officials soliciting help against potential threats.
The NSAB letter asked for help from the current administration in “attacks, threats, and intimidation against school officials;” the Nation School Boards Association asked for assistance under the PATRIOT Act.
The PATRIOT Act is the same legislation that sparked much controversy during the time following 9/11. Opponents of the law believe that innocent Americans can be targeted; the ACLU pointed in statistics between 2003 and 2006 showing that for 190,000 National Letters of Security, ZERO criminal referrals for terrorist activity led to arrests.
Even the Feds’ Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board stated in 2010: “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the US in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counter terrorism investigation.”
However, the National Association of School Boards wants Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to utilize this part of the Patriot Act to prevent potential harm to school officials. Not only are millions of Americans outraged at what they believe is a blatant misuse of government power, Republicans in the Senate sent a letter to Merrick Garland in regards to what they believe is a politicization of the DOJ.
Ranking member and outspoken conservative Chuck Grassley (R-IA) commissioned the letter, which was signed by other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Florida Senator Marco Rubio said that the FBI shouldn’t be utilized to investigate outspoken parents at school board meetings, but “should be focused on organized crime.”
The letter supports the idea that parents should be able to question the curriculum of their child’s school, especially when controversial issues such as Critical Race Theory are a part of the learning material. The GOP senators also support the right of parents to question masking mandates in their child’s school, particularly when studies regarding the efficacy of masks are conflicting.
Many parents are contending that forcing children to wear masks in school is child abuse. Some parents have been so vocal as to accuse the school board of being child abusers. One particularly innocuous-looking mom vaguely threatened her school board members and vowed to protect her child “like a mama bear.” However, for all the heated exchanges taking place at school board meetings, violence has been at a minimum if at all.
The GOP letter “urged” Garland and his DOJ to assure the American public that the organization would not interfere with the “speech and democratic processes” that go on during school board meetings. The Republicans did acknowledge that any violence or imminent threats of violence are not supported and should not be tolerated, but reminded Garland that the examples utilized by the National Association of School Boards were basically “heated encounters.”
The Republican Senators also reminded Garland that it is not the job of the FBI or other federal law enforcement to ensure that the angry parents at school board meetings “are nice” to the school officials present.
Parents are now seriously considering pulling their children from public schools in what one mom referred to as a “mass exodus.” She famously inferred that parents shouldn’t be worried about whether the Feds were going to knock on the door when moms are busy cooking dinner or making cookies for the children.
Many parents share her sentiment; there could be a huge increase in enrollment in charter or private schools as a result.