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Kansas lawmakers call for answers after FBI requests investigation into parents at school board meetings

FILE - People in the JCPS school board meeting crowd disrupted Tuesday's meeting over armed...
FILE - People in the JCPS school board meeting crowd disrupted Tuesday's meeting over armed resource officers in schools. Some are calling for them to return, while others want to keep armed officers out of schools.(WAVE 3 News)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 3:47 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Following a request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to formally investigate parents that speak out against COVID protocols and curriculums at school board meetings, Kansas lawmakers have called on the Attorney General for answers.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he led a group of colleagues to send a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland for clarification about a recent memo he sent regarding the federal government’s part in silencing parents concerned about COVID protocols and curriculum changes in public schools.

“We’ve seen all too often this administration, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), attack the constitutional rights that make America great, all in the name of “security” or “public health,” said Sen. Marshall. “Your recent Memorandum dated October 4, is an alarming attack on this most important Constitutional right.”

The letter goes on to state he agrees that school employees should not be subject to violence or threats.

“While we agree with the sentiment that there is absolutely no environment in which it is acceptable that school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff would be subject to real threats of violence, we believe any threat that constitutes a clear and imminent threat of intended violence should be investigated and prosecuted by local law enforcement officers. We also believe parents have the right to voice their concerns, opinions, and frustrations to public servants,” stated the letter.

Sen. Marshall said wasting resources to investigate protected speech will discourage others and bars free speech.

“It is not the job of the federal government to institute a witch hunt against parents effectively penalizing them by investigating dissent,” he said. “Wasting federal resources investigating constitutionally protected speech simply to discourage people from that speech is as egregious as barring free speech.”

The memo is a request from the Attorney General for law enforcement agencies to address a spike in harassment, intimidation and threats against school employees in recent months.

“While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views,” said Garland in the letter. “Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values. 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.”

The memo states the Federal Bureau of Investigation will announce a series of measures in the coming days to address the rise in criminal conduct toward school employees.

Congressman Tracey Mann (KS-01) said he too co-signed a letter with Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) and 61 others to Garland to express concerns within the House about the FBI’s investigation request about parents speaking out against school curriculums at board meetings.

“It’s simple - parents know what is best for their children and have every right to voice concerns regarding what’s being taught in their child’s classroom,” said Rep. Mann. “Threats of violence are unacceptable. As elected officials, school board members listen to and represent the parents and students of their district. Attorney General Garland’s actions mirror a politicized move to silence parents’ voices and federal overreach. My colleagues and I want answers.”

To read the full Senate letter, click HERE.

To read the full House letter, click HERE.

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