17 States Warn Federal Government Not to Threaten Parents Who Protest Local School Boards

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) wrote a letter (PDF) to President Joe Biden in September asking for “federal assistance to stop threats” against school board members. Parents across the country are upset about what government schools are teaching their children, and school boards claim parents have threatened them.

The organization invoked the Patriot Act, a controversial law passed after Islamic terrorists murdered Americans on September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act expanded the federal government’s powers purportedly to deal with foreign terrorism.

The NSBA asked that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Homeland Security, and the FBI review “acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials.”

Additionally, NSBA requests that such review examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an Executive Order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a response (PDF) saying they would direct federal law enforcement officials to discuss strategies for dealing with a “disturbing spike” in “threats of violence.”

How are school boards defining “threats”? Raised, angry voices? Protesting inside or outside the meetings? Becoming irate about what government schools are teaching their children?

The Attorney General of Oklahoma announced that his state is joining with 16 others to challenge what they call the federal government’s attempts to intimidate parents. The other states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

“Parents who advocate for their children at school board meetings in a nonviolent way are heroes and are necessary to improve our schools,” Attorney General John O’Connor said. “To call them ‘domestic terrorists’ is bullying by the Biden Administration. Parents have rights under the First Amendment, and our school boards should solicit and welcome parental input. Our schools will be better educators if they will listen to the parents.”

O’Connor asserts in his press release that the Biden administration “has provided no convincing evidence of any significant ‘spike’ in threats against school personnel. Instead, these actions by the administration seem designed to chill the lawful dissent of parents who express concerns about their children’s education at local public school board meetings.”

The Daily Caller reported that a small crowd protested outside the DOJ on Sunday for a “Parents Are Not ‘Domestic Terrorists’ Rally.”

Stacy Langton was speaking before a school board during her allotted two minutes about two books in the school library that featured child pornography and pedophilia, and the school board cut off her microphone after 30 seconds. She said she’s offended by the NSBA’s and the DOJ’s actions.

“Nobody is advocating violence if they’re going and standing at a podium trying to get a problem addressed at their school board meeting, because there is no other mechanism for me to do that,” she said.

Brian Schultz of Fairfax County, Virginia, said the attorney general is attempting to spy on parents by making these threats.

“To date, there really hasn’t been any violence at school board meetings,” he told The Daily Caller. “Yes, loud voices, but loud voices are not considered violence and it’s OK for parents to express their concerns with loud voices.”

His wife, Elizabeth, said that we’re at “a turning point where the federal government can weaponize its investigatory intervention powers … not on actual terrorists, not on the border, not on protecting communities, but on school board meetings where parents come to speak passionately, fervently in support of a fulsome education for their children that focuses on math and science, that focuses on getting everybody reading at grade level.”

Photo credit: Bryan Jones (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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  1. Good parents are certainly passionate about their children’s education. In the public square, however, Roberts Rules of Order demands respectful and considerate comment and debate. You defeat your purpose by screaming at the top of your lungs.

    • True. However, The overwhelming majority of cases involve parents who were not even allowed to make comments that the school board disagreed with, no matter how “respectful and considerate” they were.

      The only instance I’ve heard of where a parent “screamed” was when a father, whose daughter was raped in the girls’ restroom by a transgender, became distraught when the school board denied that the incident had even happened. Because of the school board’s denial, the boy claiming to be a girl was sent to a different school where he attacked another girl. If it was my daughter, I’d have done some screaming too!