House Republicans Press US Attorneys on Garland's School Board Task Force

Attorney general authorized law enforcement to discuss monitoring school board meetings

Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) questions U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
November 2, 2021

House Republicans are requesting information from U.S. attorneys' offices regarding their involvement with the Biden administration’s effort to monitor school board meetings for potential acts of domestic terrorism.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent letters to all 94 U.S. attorneys' offices Monday asking for information about discussions authorized by Attorney General Merrick Garland to address what he called a "disturbing trend" of violence at school board meetings. On Oct. 4, Garland directed the FBI, U.S. attorneys, and the Justice Department’s civil rights and national security divisions to join local law enforcement officials to discuss strategies to prevent the violence.

Garland’s action came days after the National School Boards Association called on President Joe Biden to deploy the FBI to monitor school board meetings for potential acts of domestic terrorism. The association was in contact with the White House and Department of Education in the weeks leading up to the letter, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The timeline has raised questions about whether the association and White House colluded to draft the letter as a predicate to forming a federal task force to scrutinize the meetings.

"We are continuing to investigate the troubling attempts by the Department of Justice and the White House to use the heavy hand of federal law enforcement to target concerned parents at local school board meetings and chill their protected First Amendment activity," Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) and other House Judiciary Republicans wrote in the letters to federal prosecutors.

Republicans say the task force is aimed at preventing parents from protesting controversial policies, including student mask mandates and the teaching of left-wing curricula like critical race theory.

"Concerned parents voicing their strong opposition to controversial curricula at local schools are not domestic terrorists. Parents have an undisputed right to direct the upbringing and education of their children," the lawmakers wrote.

The Republicans say the federal government should not monitor local school board meetings, and that any acts of violence should be dealt with by local authorities.

"We must not tolerate the use of the federal law enforcement apparatus to intimidate and silence parents using their constitutional rights to advocate for their child’s future," the Republican members wrote.

Garland testified on Oct. 21 that he was unaware whether prosecutors had complied with his memo, though he said he hoped that they would.

Congressional Republicans have also asked the administration about the decision to appoint Viola Garcia, the president of the National School Boards Association, to the Education Department’s National Assessment Governing Board, which sets federal standards for a nationwide student achievement test. Garcia was appointed to the position on Oct. 1, days after she cosigned the letter to Biden requesting federal help in monitoring local school board meetings.