The situation surrounding the infamous and much-criticized letter penned by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) where they compared protesting parents to domestic terrorists has just taken an interesting turn. According to an email exchange obtained by the non-profit group Parents Defending Education through a Freedom of Information Act request, it appears Joe Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was a teeny bit more involved than previously thought.
This NSBA letter, which suggested using the Patriot Act against the concerned parents, was relied upon by President Biden’s Department of Justice when they created their own memo that instructed the FBI to call in the troops in support of local education officials. Attorney General Merrick Garland even testified, though not convincingly, that he based his memo strictly on the NSBA letter. Unfortunately for Garland, emails contradict his testimony.
The email exchange, which can be read here in its entirety, was between NSBA board member Marnie Maldonado and NSBA Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett in which Maldonado expressed her concern regarding first the process in which “the statement was made” and then the “tone that essentially allowed the White House to direct the Attorney General to considers members of our community “domestic terrorists.” Maldonado questioned if Board policy had been followed and she attached NSBA’s policy concerning “emergency” situations. She also expressed disappointment that she was included in working with her fellow board members on “this very delicate topic.”
But it was the response from Swett that was most revealing. In it, she explained that she never felt the letter fell under an “emergency situation” and that “it certainly was not characterized that way when [NSBA interim CEO Stuart] Chip [Slaven] told the officers he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by [Education] Secretary [Miquel] Cardona.” Uh oh. If it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck.
These emails give off the appearance that there was previous contact between the NSBA, the White House, and the Justice Department well before the letter was released to the public. “Should this allegation be true, it would reveal that this administration’s pretextual war on parents came from the highest levels,” Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily explained to Fox News.
This latest bombshell comes on the heels of the controversy that started back in September 2021, which followed weeks and weeks of heated school board meetings over mask mandates, school curriculum, and gendered bathrooms. Educators and school board members claimed parents were violent, though so far there’s been little evidence of it beyond an angry father yelling at the school board for covering up the rape of his daughter. School board officials further claimed they began receiving messages which they characterized threats. One letter, which was mailed to an Ohio school board member, said, “We are coming after you. You are forcing them to wear mask — for no reason in this world other than control. And for that, you will pay dearly.”
This letter and many more the claimed to have like it, prompted the NSBA letter, which called parents terrorists. But the NSBA, the Justice Department, and the White House have always denied being in cahoots. “Attorney General Merrick Garland unequivocally stated that he based his memo on the NSBA’s letter – which in turn, mobilized the FBI and US Attorneys,” Neily added. “If Secretary Cardona was truly involved in this ugly episode, it is a significant breach of public trust, and he should be held accountable.”
As the original letter made its way to the public, the NSBA began to feel the heat, especially concerning the parents as terrorists’ comment. Garland then issued an updated memo, removing the “domestic terrorists” label. But that didn’t suffice some and the heat continued. So, the NSBA issued an apology letter, condemning some of the language used in the letter. In it, they expressed remorse stating “there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. We should have had a better process in place to allow for consultation on a communication of this significance.”
All’s well that ends well? Not at all. This new revelation of Cardona’s possible involvement in calling parents terrorists has House Republicans calling for accountability. Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina representative and ranking member of the House committee on education and labor likened the pattern of behavior shown by both the White House and Cardona “is what one could expect from a political arsonist.” Foxx added via the Washington Examiner, “It is abundantly clear to me that Secretary Cardona must answer to the Education and Labor Committee, Congress on the whole, and especially the American people. Anything less is an insult to the proud parents who want to better the education of their children.”
A Department of Education spokesperson finally responded to the allegation that Cardona solicited the letter, saying that he did not. Cardona has not commented on the allegation. Perhaps now that it is in the open, Ms. Swett will offer an explanation as to why she included Cardona’s name in her email to Ms. Maldonado.