Republican senators sent a letter Thursday demanding answers from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona about reports that he played a key role in soliciting the National School Board Association (NSBA) to write a letter to President Biden that labeled parents as “domestic terrorists.”
“While we knew early on that White House staff were complicit in the creation of this letter, it is only recently that information has surfaced implicating you and your office in this shameful episode,” the 25 senators wrote.
“News reports indicate that the letter from the NSBA to President Biden was actually initiated at your request. Accountability begins at the top, and as U.S. Secretary of Education you must explain your role, or your staff’s role, in the creation of this letter,” they concluded.
On Sept. 29, the NSBA sent a letter to President Biden accusing school parents of “domestic terrorism” for voicing their frustration about school board policies that endorsed lockdowns, school closures, COVID vaccine and mask mandates and critical race theory curriculum, among other issues.
In response, on Oct. 4, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo directive to the FBI and U.S. Attorneys to investigate the parents objecting to the school policies, basing his decision to do so on the NSBA letter, which suggested deploying the Patriot Act against parents.
“Parents are not ‘domestic terrorists’ and it is appalling that anyone would suggest that exercising the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and assembly would be characterized as a threat,” the 25 GOP senators wrote in the letter to Mr. Cardona. “Parents across the country are outraged that their children’s education has been disrupted, delayed, even denied over the past two years.”
After the letter went public, many state school board associations either severed or reexamined their relationships with the NSBA.
By the end of October, the NSBA apologized for the letter after receiving significant backlash over the letter. Mr. Merrick has not rescinded his memo, however.
Earlier this week, e-mail correspondence of NSBA Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett, first obtained by Fox News Digital, indicated the NSBA‘s letter was sent to the Biden administration at the request of Mr. Cardona.
According to an Oct. 5 e-mail, Ms. Swett recalled that NSBA interim CEO Chip Slaven “told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cardona.”
The Washington Times reached out to the NSBA about the senators’ inquiry but did not immediately hear back.
A Department of Education spokesperson denied that Mr. Cardona asked for the NSBA letter to be written, despite the e-mail saying otherwise, the outlet reported.
“While the Secretary did not solicit a letter from NSBA, to understand the views and concerns of stakeholders, the Department routinely engages with students, teachers, parents, district leaders and education associations,” the spokesperson said.
Other e-mail correspondence from weeks prior showed the NSBA contacted the White House and the Justice Department before it sent the letter.
The GOP lawmakers asked Mr. Cardona several questions in their letter, including what role he or his staff played in the NSBA letter sent to Mr. Biden.
The senators also asked whether he believed parents exercising constitutionally protected rights were “domestic terrorists.”
The lawmakers also want to know whether Mr. Cardona’s department got any direction from the White House about the “origination, creation, or content of the letter.”
Additionally, they inquired if he was committed to firing any department staff who crafted the letter if they did so without his knowledge or direction.