NSBA coordinated with White House, DOJ before sending notorious 'domestic terrorists' letter: emails

NSBA leaders even altered the letter's text to satisfy the Biden White House

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Newly released internal emails reveal that the National School Boards Association coordinated with the White House and the Department of Justice before sending President Biden the notorious letter that compared concerned parents to domestic terrorists. Emails provided to Fox News show that NSBA had coordinated with the White House for weeks beforehand.

Viola Garcia, the NSBA president whom the Department of Education later named to a federal board, sent a memo to NSBA members on Oct. 11 (but dated Oct. 12), providing a timeline of the NSBA's interaction with the White House ahead of the letter to Biden, which the NSBA sent on Sept. 29. 

Five days later, on Oct. 4, the DOJ issued a memo directing law enforcement to investigate threats to school boards. On Oct. 22, the NSBA issued an apology for the letter. 

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"Concern over the current climate for school board members is also a top priority as disruptions at school board meetings grow and members face growing threats," Garcia wrote at the time, according to the memo obtained by Parents Defending Education through a Freedom of Information Act request. "NSBA has been actively engaged with the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Surgeon General, and other federal agencies on pandemic related issues."

(Oregon School Boards Association)

"In the September 14, 2021 meeting of the [NSBA Organization of State Association Executive Directors] liaison group, they were informed there had been a meeting with White House staff that morning and that NSBA was preparing to send a letter to the President. Subsequently, on September 17, 2021, the interim Executive Director emailed notice to the state association executive directors that indicated a letter requesting federal assistance would be sent."

"In response to the letter sent by NSBA, on October 4, 2021 the Attorney General announced in a memorandum widely shared throughout the U.S. Department of Justice that he was ordering all U.S. Attorney Offices and local FBI offices to reach out to local and state law enforcement officials to coordinate efforts on this problem within 30 days of the memorandum," Garcia also noted.

This statement appears to contradict Attorney General Merrick Garland's testimony to Congress on Oct. 27. When Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked Garland if he had "second thoughts" following NSBA's apology for the letter, he said that the DOJ memorandum did not rely upon the letter.

"The letter that was subsequently sent does not change the association’s concern of violence or threats of violence. It alters some of the language in the letter … that we did not rely on and is not contained in my own memorandum," Garland said.

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Neither Garland nor the DOJ responded to Fox News' request for comment by press time. 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Oct. 21.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Oct. 21. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS)

Another email exclusively sent to Fox News revealed that NSBA had discussed the issues with the White House "for weeks" before sending the letter. Garcia and Chip Slaven, an NSBA executive, altered the text of the letter to satisfy the curiosity of White House staff.

"In talks over the last several weeks with White House staff, they requested additional information on some of the specific threats, so the letter also details many of the incidents that have been occurring," Slaven wrote in a September 29, 2021, email to the NSBA board of directors.

Parents have spoken up at school board meetings around the country, protesting harsh COVID-19 mitigation measures like school closures, and raising their voices against transgender policies, critical race theory, and other issues. The letter warned that these parents pose a violent threat to school boards, even going so far as comparing them to domestic terrorists.

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The fallout from the letter has proven particularly severe. Ohio's, Wisconsin's, and the school boards of nine other states have reportedly terminated their relationships with NSBA, and parent's education rights organizations have grown in prominence since the letter. The letter may have also emboldened concerned parents who supported Republican Glenn Youngkin, who won the Virginia governor's race earlier this month.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin gestures during a [Loudoun Parents Matter Rally] campaign event in Leesburg, Virginia, on Nov. 1, 2021.

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin gestures during a [Loudoun Parents Matter Rally] campaign event in Leesburg, Virginia, on Nov. 1, 2021. (REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz)