Grassley: Garland Continues to Refuse Withdrawal of his School Board Memo

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All the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Attorney General Garland two letters about the Justice Department’s involvement in local school-board matters. The first one was in October. Then in December we asked why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division was getting involved in parents expressing their concerns at school board meetings. Now, just to be crystal clear, there’s no excuse for real threats or acts of violence at school board meetings, but if there are such threats, these should be handled at the local level and the Attorney General should withdraw his memo that started this whole thing.

 

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Well, a couple days before Christmas, the Justice Department responded to us with just a one-page letter.

 

In that letter, DOJ had nothing to say about why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division was involved in local school-board matters. DOJ just said, “We’re not going to withdraw the memo.” So, the Feds may be keeping track of school board meetings—even if it creates a horrible chilling effect. And, of course the FBI looking over your shoulder would have a chilling effect. Next week the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on domestic terrorism. I hope we’re going to be focusing on the serious threats facing our country—and I hope no one thinks the focus is on our nation’s parents.

 

School boards have to be accountable to the parents they serve. Some school boards across the country are still shutting down classes even though vaccines have been available for a long time now and dramatically reduce the chances of major illnesses to teachers.

 

Meanwhile millions of kids across the country are struggling to catch up. They’re under enormous stress from being separated from one another for so long. Schools are seeing far more behavioral problems than they ever have. Parents are right to be concerned and to ask questions.

 

They should be telling their school districts that they want to see changes. But will they? Will the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division be keeping track of them as parents ask for changes?

 

The Department of Justice owes the American people a better answer than just a one-page letter that says nothing about why the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division is involved in local school-board matters.

 

Now more than ever, parents should be their kids’ strongest and best advocates. They have the God-given right to do so. And the Justice Department ought to be doing everything it can to protect that right, not scare them out of exercising that right.

 

Attorney General Garland should withdraw his memo. And he should take Congress’s oversight, and concern for the rights of parents, more seriously.

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