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17 GOP AGs accuse federal government of intimidating parents at school board meetings


FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2021 file photo, people hold signs and chant during a meeting of the North Allegheny School District school board regarding the district's mask policy, at at North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless, Pa. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2021 file photo, people hold signs and chant during a meeting of the North Allegheny School District school board regarding the district's mask policy, at at North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless, Pa. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP, File)
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Seventeen state attorneys general signed a letter Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita wrote to President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking them to stop "intimidating parents away from raising concerns about the education of their children."

The letter was in response to another letter sent by The National School Board Association (NSBA) to Biden comparing certain conflicts between school boards and parents to “domestic terrorism." Garland called for the FBI to address and report threats on school officials.

Rokita and 16 other Republican state attorneys general responded in their letter saying, “your recent action seeks to chill lawful dissent by parents voiced during local school board meetings by characterizing them as unlawful and threatening.”

Garland addressed the FBI in a memorandum, saying there has been a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools.”

According to Fox News, The NSBA also called for Biden to invoke the Patriot Act, which was passed by Congress with the goal of fighting terrorism following 9/11. The NSBA claims there has been an increase in "acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials.”

The 17 attorneys general believe the NSBA is more concerned about “suppressing speech with which it disagrees than real threats of violence,” and claim the NSBA did not “document a single legitimate instance of violence.”

According to the NSBA letter, many of the quarrels between parents and school board members have been regarding critical race theory or mask mandates in schools.

In their letter, the opposing state attorneys general clarified that any actual physical assault on a school administrator, board member, teacher, or staff would indeed be criminal, but should be charged under state law, not federal, as there are already state laws in place to handle such situations.

The attorneys general say that as legal officers, they have always advised their constituencies of their “constitutional right to free speech.” They highlight that "criminalizing dissenting voices" through the FBI is contrary to that value.

In a recent statement, Rokita demanded the Biden administration stop using what he calls "intimidation and scare tactics" in order to shut down parental participation.

“Hoosier parents have a First Amendment right to speak their minds to teachers, administrators and school board members,” Rokita said.

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