by Kendall Tietz
A National School Boards Association (NSBA) executive reportedly knew about Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memorandum targeting concerned parents before it was published, according to new information obtained by Parents Defending Education.
Chip Slaven, then-interim executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) knew about Garland’s memorandum that called on the FBI to “use its authority” against parents who threaten or use violence against public school officials, according to an email obtained by Parents Defending Education (PDE) through a public records request.
“I understand Chip knew about the U.S. AG Directives before they were published,” Alabama NSBA member Pam Doyle told Florida NSBA member Beverly Slough in an Oct. 5, 2021 internal email exchange. “So much for communicating with the BOD,” she added.
Alabama and Florida have since withdrawn their membership from the NSBA.
The information furthers evidence that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the NSBA collaborated by using the federal government to monitor and intervene in the activities of concerned parents regarding their children’s education, according to PDE.
In January, emails showed Cardona allegedly solicited the Sept. 29 NSBA letter comparing parents to domestic terrorists that prompted the Oct. 4 DOJ memorandum.
The NSBA asked the Biden administration to use statutes such as the USA PATRIOT Act to stop threats and violence directed toward school board members over actions that could be “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” according to the now-deleted letter.
In response, Garland issued a memorandum that cited a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
Slaven “told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cordona,” NSBA Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett told NSBA member Marnie Maldonado in early October 2021, according to emails obtained by PDE.
A Department of Education spokesperson told the DCNF that Cardona “did not solicit a letter from NSBA,” but said “the Department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations” so it can “understand the views and concerns of stakeholders.”
Email correspondence and a memorandum obtained by PDE showed the White House was in communication with the NSBA for “several weeks” before the NSBA letter became public. Communication also showed state school board members were allegedly informed that the organization “was preparing to send a letter to the President” following “a meeting with White House staff.”
Before the letter was sent, Garland testified that he could not “imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor … a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorists.”
A Department of Justice whistleblower leaked documents in November that showed the FBI ordered personnel to compile parent threat assessments through the creation of a “threat tag” to track threats against school officials the day before Garland’s testimony, according to a joint statement sent on behalf of the Assistant Directors of the Bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division and the Counterterrorism Division
“The Department of Justice and Department of Education continue to hide the truth about this scandal, and each new piece of evidence raises additional questions,” Nicole Neily, president and founder of PDE told the DCNF. “There appears to be an unprecedented level of coordination between this administration and outside actors – including the NSBA and teachers’ unions – in their war on parents.”
“The American people deserve to learn the truth – and furthermore, the elected officials who participated in this episode should be held accountable,” she added.
The NSBA did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Kendall Tietz is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.