Miguel Cardona asked for school board ‘domestic terror’ letter

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Miguel Cardona asked for school board 'domestic terror' letter

A newly released email indicates Education Secretary Miguel Cardona solicited last September’s letter from the National School Boards Association which compared parents protesting at school board meetings to domestic terrorists.

In an Oct. 6 message to NSBA board member Marnie Maraldo, Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett said then-interim CEO Chip Slaven had told his fellow officers “he was writing a letter to provide information to the White House, from a request by Secretary Cardona.”

The email was obtained through a public records request by the group Parents Defending Education and shared with The Post. It is the first piece of evidence to suggest Cardona’s specific involvement in the NSBA letter.

In the Sept. 29 dispatch to President Biden from Slaven, he suggested that parents who object to mask mandates and the imposition of critical race theory in classrooms are engaging in “a form of domestic terrorism” and asked the administration to “examine appropriate enforceable actions” under a raft of legislation — including the post-9/11 Patriot Act.

Attorney General Merrick Garland
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the FBI would take the lead in responding to threats against teachers and school employees in October 2021.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

That same day, Slaven told his fellow NSBA officers that he had been “in talks over the last several weeks with White House staff” who had “requested additional information on some of the specific threats”.

On Oct. 4, two days before the exchange between Swett and Maraldo, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the FBI would take the lead on probing what he called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

On Oct. 12, six days after the revelation by Swett, then-NSBA president Viola Garcia detailed in a memo that the organization had been “actively engaged with the White House, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Education, Surgeon General, and other federal agencies on pandemic related issues.”

Two weeks later, Garcia was selected by Cardona for a position on the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees and examines student performance in a number of subjects and reports on their achievements.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education insisted in a statement that Cardona “did not solicit a letter” from Slaven.

“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.

Garland’s Oct. 4 order was heavily criticized by Republicans, who accused the Biden administration of siccing the FBI on upset parents. 

The NSBA has since apologized for the language in the letter, claiming Slaven sent the missive without consulting his fellow officials first. 

Miguel Cardona
A spokesperson for Cardona denies that the education secretary requested the letter from NSBA.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Several members of Congress called on Garland to retract his memo as well. However, the attorney general refused, citing the fact that he did not use the same incendiary language used by the NSBA. 

“The memo … responds to concerns about violence, threats of violence, other criminal conduct,” Garland told senators in late October. “That’s all it’s about and all it asks is for federal law enforcement to consult with, meet with local law enforcement to assess the circumstances, and strategize about what may or may not be necessary to provide federal assistance if it is necessary.” 

“The language in the letter that they disavow is language that was never included in my memo and never would have been,” Garland added later in his testimony. “I did not adopt every concern that they had in their letter.”

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