Cardona Requested School Board Letter That Called Parents 'Domestic Terrorists'

Parents group calls for investigation into 'jaw-dropping' emails

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona / Getty Images
January 11, 2022

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asked the National School Boards Association to draft a controversial letter that referred to the parents of schoolchildren as potential domestic terrorists, emails show.

According to emails obtained by the group Parents Defending Education, association official Kristi Swett wrote to a colleague that the group's executive director Chip Slaven said "he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cordona [sic]."

The emails provide the first indication that Cardona had a hand in creating the letter, which provided cover for the Justice Department to form a federal task force to investigate threats of violence against school board members. Fox News first reported the details of the emails.

"The allegation that Secretary Cardona requested the NSBA's involvement is jaw-dropping, and should be investigated immediately. American parents deserve to know whether the head of the U.S. Department of Education sought to silence their voices—and if so, he must be held accountable," said Parents Defending Education president Nicole Neily.

Slaven and National School Boards Association president Viola Garcia called on President Joe Biden in the Sept. 29 letter to deploy the FBI and use the Patriot Act to investigate threats made against school board members as acts of "domestic terrorism." Attorney General Merrick Garland formed a federal task force to investigate threats against school boards on Oct. 4.

Parent groups and Republicans blasted Garland over the decision, saying they were concerned that the task force would have a chilling effect on parents' dissent against local school board policies. Many parents across the country have voiced concern over school districts' teaching of left-wing ideologies, such as critical race theory.

The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that other emails from National School Boards Association members show that officials were in contact with the White House and Department of Education prior to sending the letter. Garcia wrote in an email on Oct. 2 that association officials had been engaged with the administration for "several weeks" prior to sending the letter to Biden.

It is unclear why Cardona requested the letter from the National School Boards Association rather than communicate concerns to the White House himself.

Cardona's discussions with the association also raise questions about his selection of Garcia, the association official, to serve on the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees testing used across the country. The Free Beacon reported that Cardona selected Garcia to serve on the board on Oct. 1.

It is unclear if Cardona reviewed the association's letter before it was sent to the White House. The Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment. The Free Beacon has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests seeking agency records regarding the letter.

The National School Boards Association did not respond to a request for comment.