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Congresswoman Lisa McClain Leads Letter Demanding Answers on why Parents are Being Targeted by the DOJ

October 7, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Lisa McClain (R-MI), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, led a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers on why the Department of Justice (DOJ) is targeting parents who speak out in opposition to school board decisions.

“Teachers and school officials are supposed to work alongside parents to improve the lives of our next generation. I’m deeply concerned the already politicized Department of Justice is now getting involved in our education system. Threats of violence are completely unacceptable; however, this is nothing more than a scare tactic to silence parents who are pushing back against unnecessary mandates and an agenda they disagree with being forced down our children’s throats,” said Rep. McClain. “School boards are elected bodies and it’s their duty to be responsive and fairly represent the parents and students in their district.”

Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Jim Banks (R-IN), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), David McKinley (R-WV), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Fred Keller (R-PA), Greg Steube (R-FL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), David Rouzer (R-NC), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Brian Mast (R-FL), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Barry Moore (R-AL), Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Michelle Steel (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Ted Budd (R-NC), Burgess Owens (R-UT), Bill Posey (R-FL), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Van Taylor (R-TX), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) Troy Balderson (R-OH) Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Roger Williams (R-TX), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Ben Cline (R-VA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Mary Miller (R-IL), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Randy Weber (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) and Mike Garcia (R-CA) cosigned the letter.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

The full text is below.

The Honorable Merrick Garland

United States Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Garland,

Over the past several months, we have seen increased civic involvement and participation at local government forums, specifically at school board meetings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are taking notice of what and how their children are being taught in the classroom, hot-button social issues being weaved into the curriculum, and what safety protocols their child is supposed to follow while attending school. While some of these meetings may get heated, most of the parents who have been attending these meetings have simply voiced their passions and concerns for their children and their futures.

While we agree with you that any threat of violence against these government officials should be condemned and investigated, no government official has the right to claim that a citizen may not peacefully speak out against government policies. Statements made by officials like former Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, who publicly stated, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,”[1] are utterly unacceptable. Government officials need to recognize that in our Constitutional republic, they are elected to represent the public. While they should never be subjected to threats, they are not above criticism or disagreement from the citizens who elected them. If we are to live in a free society, it is your job as Attorney General of the United States to defend the rights of all citizens.

Your October 4, 2021, memorandum to several directors across the Department of Justice informed them of your intention as the Attorney General to promulgate “a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.”[2] While we applaud your dedication to combatting criminal activity across the United States, we have grave concerns with your announcement. We are requesting answers to the following questions to provide clarity on your Department’s intentions. Please respond no later than November 15th, 2021:

  1. What specific cases are you referencing in your memorandum that rise to the level of “criminal conduct?”
  2. What criteria/behavior is the Department of Justice considering “criminal conduct?”
  3. What federal statutes do you plan to cite in your prosecution of these parents?
  4. Who will be conducting the investigation into these cases? Please provide details on the roles of the FBI, United States Attorneys, State and local law enforcement, and any other entities that will be involved.
  5. Will you be looking into other cases of alleged intimidation of school board members who have attempted to end COVID-era policies?

As the top law enforcement officer in the United States, it is your responsibility to combat criminal behavior as well as defend the Constitutional rights of all Americans. We hope you will take these duties seriously and not stifle free speech while moving forward with your investigations.

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[1] Bernstein, Brittany. “McAuliffe Argues Parents Shouldn’t Have Control over Public School Curriculum.” National Review, 29 Sept. 2021, https://www.nationalreview.com/news/mcauliffe-argues-parents-shouldnt-have-control-over-public-school-curriculum/.

[2] Garland, M. U.S. Department of Justice. (2021). Justice Department Addresses Violent Threats Against School Officials and Teachers.

Issues:Education