Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor is part of a 14-state effort to force the Biden administration to comply with federal open case laws over an effort to target parents of students using the anti-terrorism laws.
“Active parental engagement has always been the hallmark of successful schools,” O’Connor said. “As a country, we should welcome parents who peacefully defend their children at school board meetings. The Biden administration must be held accountable for colluding with the National School Boards Association to threaten parents’ First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the Biden administration to release public documents regarding its communications with the National School Boards Association (NSBA) while writing a Sept. 29 letter from the NSBA claiming there are “attacks on school board members and educators” about the school. mask mandates and that “many public school officials also face physical threats” related to community concerns about the inclusion of critical race theory in classroom instruction. The NSBA letter said some protests by parents ‘could amount to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes’ and called on federal law enforcement officials to investigate the protesters under the laws federal anti-terrorism and anti-hate crimes.
The Oklahoma State School Boards Association has not publicly criticized the NSBA or announced its opposition to investigating parents under terrorism laws.
Shortly thereafter, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum announcing that he was directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to meet with state and local officials to develop “strategies for dealing with threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff”. ”
The NSBA letter contained no specific examples of organized terrorism, and many of the examples noted in the letter amounted to little more than verbal altercations and shouting by citizens at public meetings.
Information that has since become public indicates that the letter was drafted in coordination with Biden administration officials.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Oklahoma, Indiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
The states involved in the lawsuit filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the federal government on October 26, 2021, which requested “all communications from any federal official or agency to or from the NSBA (including its employees, directors, members, or affiliated persons or organizations)” related to the September 29 letter from the NSBA.
The states also sent a letter to the NSBA asking it to release any communications in the interest of public transparency.
The Federal Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy acknowledged receipt of the states’ FOIA request on December 17, 2021 and said “unusual circumstances” existed, then forwarded the request to the Civil Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice.
In their lawsuit, state attorneys general report that the federal government has yet to produce any documents.
“The Biden administration wants to sweep these inexcusable assaults on parental free speech under the rug,” said Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. “But we are fighting for full transparency and accountability for this misconduct so it doesn’t happen again.”
The NSBA’s letter drew heavy criticism and led many state school board associations to withdraw from the national organization or strongly criticize it. At least 29 state school board associations have distanced themselves from the NSBA letter, and 21 state school board associations have withdrawn their NSBA membership, participation or dues, according to data on file with Parents. Defense Education.
The Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) is not one of those critics. The OSSBA has not publicly criticized the NSBA or announced its opposition to investigating the parents under the anti-terrorism laws.
The biography of OSSBA Executive Director Shawn Hime notes that he “previously served as President of the Executive Directors’ Organization of the National School Boards Association School Boards Association and as a member of the Board of Directors of the NSBA”.
The leadership of the National School Boards Association includes at least one education official from Oklahoma. Floyd Simon, who serves on the Clinton Public Schools School Board in Oklahoma, is listed as a member of the NSBA Board of Trustees.