Key context: The Justice Department’s plans mark a notable escalation of the government’s response to school board meetings packed with protestors who denounce Covid-19 mask mandates, political interpretations of critical race theory and other highly-politicized issues that affect classroom learning and school safety.
Last week, the National School Boards Association pressed President Joe Biden for federal assistance to review whether violence and threats against public school officials could be considered a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.
“America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” the group wrote to Biden.
“These threats and acts of violence are affecting our nation’s democracy at the very foundational levels, causing school board members – many who are not paid – to resign immediately and/or discontinue their service after their respective terms,” the school board officials said.
Looking ahead: In response, Garland directed the FBI and federal prosecutors to meet with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district in the next 30 days to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats” against school administrators, board members, educators and staff.
“The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate,” Garland wrote.