On October 4, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum regarding “Partnership among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
The one-page memo does not include any evidence of what it calls “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teaches, and staff….” Nor does it mention any actual acts of violence.
In the absence of any such stories in the news, one is left to wonder whether the AG might refer to the increase over recent months in the number of angry parents showing up at school board meetings across the country to express opposition to certain agenda items and programs that schools are foisting on their children.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent our school children home for their education, more and more parents have become concerned over the things their children were—or were not—learning. Now that schools are returning to in-person education, many of those parents want to make sure the disturbing things they saw and heard do not continue in their child’s classroom.
It is a fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children, and it is a fundamental right of all Americans to express their views and to petition their government—including their local school boards—for a redress of grievances.
If the memo means to address actual threats or acts of violence, it would have done well to outline some of those events.
Instead, it comes across as a closely veiled threat against parents who express concerns over what their children are learning in their local public schools.
Ironically, if that is in fact the case, then the parents are doing exactly what they should do by taking their concerns to the appropriate local, public forum set up for that purpose. The Department of Justice, on the other hand, would be out of line, suggesting federal action over local concerns for which the DOJ has no legal jurisdiction.
Any criminal act of violence that occurs at a school board meeting or over a disagreement in school policy would rightly be handled by the local police or sheriff, not the FBI.
All of this gives the memo the look of a veiled threat to parents: “sit down and shut up, or we will label you ‘domestic terrorists’ and open an FBI investigation on you.”
Now, again, that may not be the aim of the memo at all (though, if it is not, its actual aim completely escapes me).
But in any case, the appropriate thing for parents to do is to continue speaking up and speaking out, but taking care to do so without any threat of violence or other criminal activity.
Yes, your school boards and administrators work for you. Yes, they should answer to you. And many of them have completely lost sight of that fact. But you do not need to threaten them to hold them to account. It is enough to know your rights and assert them.
Of course, we know you already know that. But we are concerned by the perception that this memo seeks to raise the stakes.
We will continue to monitor this situation for any developments or clarifications.
Thank you for standing with us as always to defend your children by defending our parental rights.