Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to investigate alleged threats being made against school board officials by a growing coalition of parents who are outraged by the imposition of racialized curricula and COVID-driven shutdowns and mask mandates in their local classrooms.
The order, announced in a memo released Monday, comes after a group that represents school boards urged the Biden administration to review whether confrontations by outraged parents over COVID restrictions and critical race theory violate the Patriot Act.
“The classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” read the group’s letter, which was obtained by Fox News. The letter doesn’t cite any specific threats but mentions one man who gave a Nazi salute during a school board meeting in Michigan and another incident in which a school board meeting was cut short because a man became “angry.”
Garland ordered the agencies to meet with “federal, state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend,” according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland wrote. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
To combat “criminal conduct” targeting school officials, the Justice Department is expanding its activity to establish a task force comprised of representatives from multiple departments and bureaus to “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes,” according to Garland’s memo.
In addition, the Justice Department is also drafting training materials for school boards to consult to identify potential threats and offenders, to report incidents, and collect evidence to help prosecute against crimes. The statement concluded by providing a FBI tip line for people to report threats of violence against school board members and faculty in school systems.
As school districts across the country have begun to implement diversity, equity, and inclusion curriculum based on the tenets of critical race theory, parents have organized to expose what they consider to be counterproductive indoctrination efforts. The groups have also organized protests at school board meetings, resulting in aggressive confrontations between parents and school board officials.
In Guilford, Conn., Danielle Scarpellino, the leader of a slate of five anti-CRT parents running to oust the progressive-dominated school board, says she and the other candidates have been subject to an incredible amount of vitriol and intimidation since launching their bids. An online petition circulated a couple of months ago calling for Scarpellino’s “cancellation,” on which a Guilford teacher reportedly commented in solidarity. Another coordinated effort aimed to boycott her dance studio business and persuade the local church from barring her use of the grounds for recitals.