The National School Boards Association (NSBA) admitted Friday to colluding with senior White House officials to develop a letter asking the federal government to investigate concerned parents speaking at school board meetings as “domestic terrorists.”
The admission comes after an internal review, which was prompted by significant backlash to the letter that led Attorney General Merrick Garland to sic the FBI on parents and use “counterterrorism tools” to investigate them.
Parents speaking at school board meetings across the country were primarily outraged by the revelations that their children were being indoctrinated with critical race and queer theories, as well as the draconian coronavirus policies that masked children and shut down schools, leading to significant learning loss and other developmental stunting.
NSBA investigators placed the blame for the letter — from their end — almost entirely on Chip Slaven, who at the time was the Interim CEO and Executive Director of the organization. Slaven worked closely with White House Senior Advisor to the President Mary C. Wall, who “had advanced knowledge of the planned Letter and its specific contents and interacted with Mr. Slaven regarding the Letter during its drafting,” according to the findings of the inquiry.
“In addition, evidence indicates that White House officials discussed the existence of the Letter, its requests, and the contents of the Letter with Department of Justice officials more than a week before the Letter was finalized and sent to President Biden,” the findings continue. “Ms. Wall requested an advanced copy of the Letter to provide to her White House and Department of Justice colleagues ‘to see if there might be any options we can pursue here.’”
The findings also claim that “the Letter initially received positive and cooperative feedback from the White House” but that “the Letter received significant political and media attention. As a result, the NSBA faces criticism for the Letter as well as a decline in its membership, posing challenges for the future of the organization.”
“In less than a week, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum to federal law enforcement officials directing federal agencies to act consistent with relief requested in the Letter,” the report says.
During that time as well, others at the NSBA whom the findings deem “principal parties” were also involved with the concoction of the letter and it being shopped around to interested parties and media organizations.
Viola Garcia, who at the time was President of the NSBA Board of Directors, was quickly given a job at the Department of Education overseeing student progress.
Jason Amos, NSBA Director of Communications, “worked closely with Mr. Slaven and [NSBA Interim Chief Advocacy Officer Jane] Mellow to provide advance copies of the Letter to media outlets and to intentionally draw significant attention to the Letter both before and after it was publicly released.”
The day after Garland’s issuing of the memorandum, Biden himself called Garcia in a “fifteen-minute one-on-one phone call” and “thanked her for letting him know what was happening at the local level and for Dr. Garcia discussing the letter on television,” according to the investigation. Biden also invited her to visit the Oval Office, but investigators report that the visit never occurred.
Garcia was apparently reluctant to speak with NSBA investigators about the Biden call “because of the perception that the NSBA was ‘in cahoots essentially with the Biden Administration on this Letter.’”
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Judiciary ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Oversight and Reform ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and Education and Labor ranking member Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) released a joint statement condemning the Biden administration.
“This report confirms that the Biden administration colluded with members of the NSBA to abuse the counterterrorism authorities of the federal government and investigate America’s parents,” the statement begins. “This entire episode remains an insult to parents. … Those who coordinated these unprecedented attacks on our families must be held accountable.”
GOP Leaders React to NSBA Investigation
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 20, 2022
The letter, however, was apparently “not authorized or approved by the Board of Directors or the Executive Committee” and “no one on the Board of Directors, other than the four officers of the NSBA, reviewed the draft” before being sent to Biden.
“The letter directly contradicts our core commitments to parent engagement, local control, and nonpartisanship,” current NSBA CEO and Executive Director John Heim said in a statement announcing the conclusions of the investigation. “The sentiments shared in the letter do not represent the views or position of the NSBA. The NSBA does not seek or advocate for federal law enforcement intervention at local school board meetings.”
One of the chiefly outrageous requests from the NSBA that fed into the negative reaction from parents and politicians alike was for the federal government to use the PATRIOT Act to prosecute parents. In an interview with investigators, Slaven said that “he edited the letter to clarify that the request to utilize the PATRIOT Act was not with regard to al Qaeda or foreign adversaries, but with regard to the fact that ‘we were concerned over folks here in this country.’”
The report appears to gloss over much of the parental concern with critical race and queer theories, however, saying the impetus for Slaven’s seeking the letter was in “response to the growing tensions at local school board meetings made manifest by the divide in public opinion in the then-ongoing debate about when and how public-school students should return to in-person instruction.”
“As a result of the NSBA’s internal investigation, the American people now know that Biden Administration officials did indeed work with NSBA on the since-retracted letter requesting federal intervention in school board issues,” Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily said in a statement. “It is inexcusable that a senior White House advisor would have the audacity to collaborate on a public request to use the Patriot Act against families; this is, quite literally, a betrayal of trust by the highest levels of government.
“While a number of questions remain – including the extent of Secretary Cardona’s involvement in this scandal – it is our hope that the individuals involved are held accountable for this betrayal of public trust,” Neily concluded.
Breccan F. Thies is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @BreccanFThies.