Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is taking the lead in a 17-state coalition that is seeking to stop the Biden administration from intimidating parents who speak up at school board meetings regarding issues concerning their children’s education.
“Hoosier parents have a First Amendment right to speak their minds to teachers, administrators, and school board members,” Rokita asserted. “That’s why I’m demanding that the Biden administration immediately stop attempting to shut down parental participation through scare tactics and intimidation.”
Rokita wrote a letter on Oct. 18 to President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland expressing his concerns about the treatment and characterization of parents who attend school board meetings. He is specifically referring to a memo issued by Garland on Oct. 4 that addresses a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”
“Concerned parents passionate about their kids’ education are not terrorists,” Rokita stated in a news release on Monday. “The Biden administration and its special-interest allies need to dial down the rhetoric and respect the rights of parents to be heard.”
States forming a coalition against the federal government.
Get used to this. There’s gonna be a lot more of it. And if you can, get to one of those states. They’re gonna be the only protection you have. https://t.co/jwYTI98N2M
— Jesse Kelly (@JesseKellyDC) October 19, 2021
The National School Board Association (NSBA) sent a letter on Sept. 29 to Garland that decried parents pushing back against various issues being taught in schools. That letter noted, “As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
Garland tasked the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies with monitoring the activities of the nation’s school districts in order to suppress behavior from unruly parents who they perceive as a threat.
The administration has presented no verifiable evidence of a significant “spike” in threats against school personnel. Their actions seemed to be aimed at quelling dissent from parents who are speaking up at local school board meetings against such issues as Critical Race Theory, mask mandates, and policies regarding transgender students.
Rokita’s letter says as much:
“Today, we write to you in our capacity as State Attorneys General, chief legal officers for our respective states. Over the last year, as legal officers, we have advised our constituencies of their constitutional right to free speech and encouraged public engagement to voice their opinions on important issues affecting their country, state, and communities, especially parents who have concerns about their children’s education. Your recent action seeks to chill lawful dissent by parents voiced during local school board meetings by characterizing them as unlawful and threatening.”
Rokita stated in his letter that actual threats and acts of violence toward school employees are rare and, in the event they do occur, they could be addressed by existing laws and local authorities.
“Surely the FBI and Department of Justice have more pressing matters to attend to,” the letter contends, “like the massive spike in murders in major cities throughout the United States.”
The letter also questioned why the administration and NSBA are focusing more attention on “parents who have concerns about their children’s education” than on the “outright and documented criminal behavior” that occurred during the Black Lives Matter protests.
“In no known instance, has there been anything like the burning, looting, police assaults, vandalism, and other criminal activity that occurred in the summer of 2020,” the letter states. “We note that to date your administration has done nothing to bring those thousands of perpetrators to justice.”
Rokita has released a “Parents Bill of Rights” that encourages parent participation. It is a resource for civic dialogue and outlines how parents and caregivers can “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”
The 17 state attorneys general who have signed are from Indiana, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Rokita is being widely praised for leading the fight to protect the rights of parents to speak out:
That’s my AG – he’s one of 2 in office we Hoosiers can count on
— turnin2 (Toni) (@TLEvans54) October 19, 2021
Great work @ToddRokitaIN
Next up, protection against vax mandates
— BowTiedLemur (@BowTiedLemur) October 19, 2021
Finally. Power to the people!!
— Poppy1313 (@Kelley13132) October 19, 2021
Awesome News Thank you Todd Rokita!!
— C LazoMiller (@medlegalrn) October 19, 2021
How can we help? Every parent is sick of this communist government! !
— Jackie Xu (@thejackiefamily) October 19, 2021
17 States w intestinal fortitude to speak on behalf of the majority.
— Chris Evans🇺🇸 (@10fourDriva) October 19, 2021
Should be all 50.
— ChangeBank (@ChangeBank) October 19, 2021
— 🇺🇸Jenn Sporer (@SporerNation) October 19, 2021
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