“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Attorney General Garland said of the effort in a statement Monday. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
Garland directed the FBI and U.S. attorney’s offices to hold meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders in the next 30 days, during which they will discuss ways to combat what the DOJ called a “disturbing trend” of harassment and threats against school officials.
Critics say the move amounts to an attempt by the Biden administration to bully parents from exercising their First Amendment rights.
The DOJ will also be launching a task force aimed at addressing the issue, while attempting to determine how the federal government could use its powers to prosecute crimes and to assist local law enforcement in incidents that are not federal crimes.
Specialized training will also be made available for local school boards and administrators to assist them in recognizing behaviors that constitute a threat, as well as helping them report the incidents to appropriate law enforcement agencies while preserving evidence to assist in the prosecution of crimes.
The move comes just four days after a leading organization representing the nation’s school boards called on the Biden administration and federal law enforcement agencies to assist school boards, which the group said have seen an increase in violent threats in response to COVID-19 restrictions and critical race theory curriculum.
“While local and state law enforcement agencies are working with public school officials in several communities to prevent further disruptions to educational services and school district operations, law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions need assistance — including help with monitoring the threat levels,” said National School Boards Association President Viola Garcia, whose organization represents over 90,000 school board members.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on Tuesday confronted U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco over the Justice Department’s new crackdown on the alleged harassment of school officials, saying it will unfairly target parents who oppose the progressive agenda.
Blackburn caught up with Monaco as she was leaving a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and asked about the DOJ’s memo. The memo directed the FBI and U.S. attorney offices to hold meetings with federal, state and local law enforcement leaders within 30 days to discuss ways to combat what the DOJ described as an “increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools.”
C-SPAN cameras captured the confrontation between Blackburn and Monaco.
The senator said the “implication” of the memo was that parents who do not adhere to the progressive agenda are to be considered by the state as “violent.”
Monaco attempted to protest, but Blackburn continued, “It’s not always what you say, it’s what people perceive that you are saying. So, I think this is an incredibly dangerous precedent.
“And this coupled with the lack of respect for these young women that came for the Larry Nassar hearing is something that’s not very good for the DOJ right now,” Blackburn added, referring to the FBI’s mishandling of the sexual abuse of Olympic gymnasts.
“The message that you are sending to parents, to individuals, is, ‘You take everything that we say or we’re not going to be there to protect you.’ And I think that’s a very dangerous place to be,” the senator continued. “This memo last night looks as if you are second-guessing every parent who is asking the question about what is being taught.”
Monaco repeatedly offered to get Blackburn a copy of the one-page memo “right away,” suggesting she hadn’t read or understood it.
“So, I hear you on the misperception, but I would ask you to look at the memo,” Monaco said.
Blackburn pushed back, saying, “the FBI has no business doing this anyway. Casting doubt on parents because they are going to question and trying to make certain how they’re being taught. I just think—”
“The FBI is not doing that,” Monaco interjected. “The role of the Justice Department is to, as you well know, investigate crimes. It’s about violence and that’s it.”
Blackburn said she would follow up with the DOJ later on the issue but added that parents just want their kids to learn in school and not be “indoctrinated.”
The exchange occurred after Blackburn arrived at the hearing late because she had been attending the Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Blackburn told Fox News in a statement that the DOJ’s message in the memo is clear: “Accept the progressive indoctrination of your children, or we will come for you.”
“I was shocked last night to see the Department of Justice announce that it is deploying the FBI against parents who have legitimate concerns about what is being taught to their children in public schools,” the senator said, in part. “This announcement—which came in direct response to the demands of teachers unions—is a blatant suppression tactic and a dangerous abuse of power. Under President Biden’s watch, the Department of Justice is making the FBI an enforcement arm for progressive policies and using federal law enforcement to intimidate concerned parents into silence.”
The memo came four days after the National School Boards Association, which represents more than 90,000 school board members, called on the Biden administration and federal law enforcement agencies to assist school boards reporting an increase in violent threats in response to COVID-19 restrictions and critical race theory curriculum.