School board organization wanted Biden to send National Guard to districts: report

The National School Boards Association planned to ask the Biden administration to deploy the Army National Guard and military police to school districts plagued by parental protests over policies such as mandatory masking and teaching critical race theory, revealed an internal review.

The startling request was included in a draft letter to the president from September last year, but was eventually deleted from the final version by then NSBA CEO Chip Slaven, according to a report by law firm Michael Best. & Friedrich LLP, based in Milwaukee. .

The letter that was eventually sent, on September 29, was signed by Slaven and then-President Viola Garcia and argued that verbal clashes and other incidents at local school board meetings across the states States constituted “malicious acts, violence and threats against the public. school officials.

“[T]Classification of these heinous actions could amount to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” reads the letter, which then asks the administration “to consider appropriate enforcement actions” in the under a series of laws – including the post-9/11 Patriot Act.

The letter, which precipitated an Oct. 4 order from Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the FBI to investigate complaints of threats against school officials from parents, prompted an immediate backlash from parents and Republicans in Congress.

The National School Boards Association reportedly planned to ask President Biden to send the National Guard to unruly school board protests last year.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

But the original letter — written on Sept. 17 by Deborah Rigsby, the NSBA’s head of lobbying and federal legislation — contained an even more egregious request.

“[W]We request that the Army National Guard and its Military Police be deployed to certain school districts and related events where students and school personnel have been subjected to acts and threats of violence,” reads the statement. the letter.

The line was too extreme even for Slaven, who expressed concern in an edited draft dated September 22.

“I went back and forth on this one,” he wrote, according to the report. “I think we should let it go for now. I’m afraid that gives the impression that we are asking for too much federal intervention. However, if things start to go wrong, we can roll back.

The NSBA's request for National Guard support was ultimately deleted from the final version of the letter to the Biden administration.
The NSBA’s request for National Guard support was ultimately deleted from the final version of the letter to the Biden administration.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rigsby advocated for the language to stay, saying in a memo attached to the draft: “If a district and its officials have received imminent threats and canceled contracts with local police/sheriff departments – and are experiencing threats, protests and related disruptions and also any changes in community standards – maybe the National Guard is needed…especially if a Governor isn’t intervening with state law enforcement.

“We are already seeing punitive actions from governors over masks, putting lives at risk,” Rigsby added.

Slaven was unmoved, writing on September 24, “I have reviewed this section again and believe it will be considered federal intervention in local and state issues. School districts that have this problem should first contact their governor who can deploy the state police.

The NSBA letter was sent several weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to investigate threats by parents against school board officials.
The NSBA letter was sent several weeks before Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to investigate threats by parents against school board officials.
Nicholas Kamm, Pool via AP

“I also think it’s not a widespread problem,” he added. “If we leave that in, it will draw a lot of attention away from the larger context. I think we leave that out and can come back if things turn out to be more widespread.

In a separate note, Slaven had no problem retaining the Patriot Act language, writing, “I recommend retaining it as there is often confusion about the PATRIOT Act from the public, so I thought that it was important to call him so that there was no confusion.”

Amid the backlash, the NSBA disavowed the letter the following month, saying in a statement that there was “no substantiation for some of the language included in the letter”.

In his Oct. 4 memo, Garland ordered the FBI and U.S. attorneys to set up meetings with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial leaders to “facilitate discussion of strategies to counter threats” and “open dedicated communication lines for threat reporting, assessment and response.

It was later revealed that the White House had “actively engaged” with the organization even before the letter was sent – which Michael Best’s report released on Friday confirmed.

“[E]The evidence indicates that White House officials discussed the existence of the letter, its demands, and the contents of the letter with Justice Department officials more than a week before the letter was finalized and sent to President Biden,” the report said.

Slaven provided the White House with an advanced summary of the letter and its contents on September 21 – three days before the National Guard’s request was withdrawn.

“While other NSBA staff members do not appear to have interacted directly with the White House or other administration officials regarding the letter, communications between staff members show that some were aware of the conversations. Mr. Slaven’s ongoing with the White House regarding the letter,” the report continued.

The document adds that at least one White House adviser – Mary Wall – used Slaven’s prior information to “include in discussions” with “other [White House] offices” as well as the Department of Justice before the letter was finalized.

New York Post

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