NSBA chief had advance notice of DOJ's controversial school board memo: email

NSBA coordinated with White House before sending school board memo

Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett says Attorney General Garland is ‘weaponizing’ the Department of Justice to silence parents who voice dissent at school board meetings.

FIRST ON FOX: The head of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) had advance notice of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s controversial memo about protecting school boards, a top NSBA official confided in an email reviewed by Fox News Digital. 

“I understand Chip [Slaven] knew about the A.G. directives before they were published. So much for communicating with the BOD [Board of Directors],” NSBA southern regional director Pam Doyle wrote in an Oct. 5 email to Beverly Slough, who sits on the NSBA Board of Directors.

Slaven was the NSBA’s CEO at the time. Doyle’s email came one day after Garland’s memo. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The email was obtained by Parents Defending Education, a pro-parents group, in a public records request and shared with Fox News Digital. 

“The American people deserve the truth about this issue immediately. It is appalling that the Department of Justice and Education Department have continued to stonewall on this scandal, ignoring pleas not only from the very people they are supposed to represent but also from the elected officials to whom they report. It’s little wonder that trust in government is at a historic low point,” PDE President Nicole Neilly told Fox News Digital. 

“The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is launching an independent comprehensive review of the circumstances around the September 2021 letter sent to the Biden administration. The sentiments shared in the letter do not represent the views or position of NSBA toward parents, and directly contradict our core commitment to parent engagement – we sent the wrong message, and we have apologized,” Dr. John Heim, the NSBA’s new executive director and CEO, told Fox News Digital on Monday. 

“The review will be conducted by Philip Kiko, an attorney and the former Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives under two different Speakers, and the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich. The review will seek to address as many questions as possible, and NSBA will share the findings with their members and the Hill as quickly as possible. We take this matter seriously and will continue to take appropriate action,” Heim added. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice on Jan. 5, 2022, in Washington.
(Carolyn Kaster-Pool/Getty Images)

The email is the latest indication of coordination between the Biden administration and the NSBA on the school board group’s letter that compared parent protests to domestic terrorism, and the subsequent Justice Department memo pledging to devote more law enforcement resources to protecting school boards. 

Garland testified later in October that the NSBA letter was the basis for his memo. Although the NSBA apologized for, and later retracted, the letter after backlash, Garland has stood by his memo. 

Fox News Digital previously reported that Education Secretary Miguel Cardona solicited the NSBA’s letter, according to an email from a top NSBA official. 

The Education Department previously denied that Cardona did, in fact, solicit the letter, but still has yet to explain the discrepancy between their denial and the email’s contents. 

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks with middle school students. 
(Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times)

Both the NSBA letter and Garland’s memo generated intense blowback from parent groups and Republican lawmakers. 

State-level school board groups quickly sought to distance themselves from the NSBA, with dozens of them formally leaving the association. 

A DOJ spokeswoman declined to answer Fox News Digital’s request for comment, pointing instead to Garland’s Senate testimony in which he said he wasn’t aware of conversations between the DOJ and the NSBA. 

A White House official previously told Fox News that the White House didn’t order Garland to write the memo, saying: “DOJ chose to take this approach on their own.” 

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