Concerned parents pose no threat to school boards, professor declares
A professor of political science from Fordham University says the U.S. Department of Justice has no evidence to support its claim that parents who oppose the teaching of controversial curriculum in public schools are akin to domestic terrorists.
Referring to a Sept. 29 letter from the National School Board Association to President Joe Biden documenting “heinous actions” that “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” Nicholas Tampio argues in a USA Today op-ed that “There is no quantitative data in the letter; instead, there are a bunch of disparate stories strung together to make it look like there is a pattern.”
The professor noted that the letter cites incidents at two school board meetings: “An individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.”
“These acts are disruptive and inappropriate, but democracy is not a graduate school seminar, and parents are allowed to express themselves to elected school board members,” Tampio asserts. “Schools should want parents invested in the well-being of their children.”
In response to the NSBA letter, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland sent a memorandum to federal law enforcement agencies “directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders ... within 30 days” to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
Garland’s memo claims there has been a “disturbing spike” in the harassment of school staff and a “rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”
“Alas, there is no evidence of a rise in the memorandum or references to where one could find evidence of it,” Tampio writes in the op-ed.
Tampio contends that it's “outrageous for the attorney general to meddle in situations that are local in nature and, so far, have led to incredibly few acts of overt violence, certainly not with the character of domestic terrorism.”
The threat, he writes, “appears to be mostly a figment of Democratic imagination.”
Further, he argues that, as per the U.S. Constitution, education is not a federal matter. Therefore, states and local school districts are responsible for keeping students safe, not the federal government.
Tampio adds that “the use of the FBI to monitor school board meetings is an incredible expansion of the federal government’s police power."
“Without more evidence of real threats," he concluded that "Biden’s political appointee appears to be making a political decision rather than a prudent one.”
The NSBA letter and the Garland memo follow several publicized school board meetings where parents have voiced their concerns about the material their children have been exposed to in school. Last month, the parent of a high school student in Fairfax County, Virginia, read excerpts aloud to school board members of content within two books available in the district’s high school libraries that promote “pedophilia” and have “detailed illustrations of a man having sex with a boy.”
The outrage over sexually explicit material used in public schools extends beyond concerned parents. The mayor of Hudson, Ohio, called on members of the Hudson City School District Board of Education to resign or face criminal charges at a board meeting last month for allowing a book featuring what he likened to “child pornography” to be included in the curriculum of a college-level English class.
Criticizing the DOJ, many have noted that concerned parents have often been harassed and intimidated. For example, Beth Barts, a member of the school board in Loudoun County, Virginia, was censured for attacking parents and was subsequently recalled. An investigation found that she plotted to go after outspoken parents she disagreed with by encouraging people in an “anti-racist” Facebook group to “hack” the parents, which led to her losing her committee duties, The Daily Wire reported.
In July, a top official with the Virginia Parent Teacher Association resigned after seemingly wishing death to parents who oppose the teaching of critical race theory and other progressive ideas. Michelle Leete, the vice president of training for the Virginia PTA, had said “let them die” at a rally in Fairfax County in response to concerned parents protesting the teaching of controversial curriculum in public schools.