Reagan Reese on July 7, 2022
Several education groups are suing the Department of Education (DOE) for composing a “partisan” council of activists to field and address school and parental education concerns, alleging the council rubber-stamps activist demands.
America First Legal, Parents Defending Education and Fight for Schools and Families are suing the DOE for allegedly staffing the National Parents and Families Engagement Council, which works with the DOE to address critiques from parents and schools throughout the country, with Biden administration allies and acting in a partisan manner, the July 6 lawsuit reads. The council allegedly violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires advisory groups to be bipartisan and free of outside influence by any special interest.
“It’s important that if we have councils, that their views be independent and not be rubber-stamped and influenced inappropriately by inventive actors. We don’t think that the council is free from inappropriate influence from the Biden administration,” Vice-President and General Counsel of America First Legal Gene Hamilton told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The lawsuit aims to keep the Biden administration accountable to FACA requirements and prevent the council from operating until it complies with FACA rules. Through the council’s violations, the lawsuit argues that the chance of “politicization in K-12 education” increases.
“Our concerns are not viewed or not being aired whatsoever,” Parents Defending Education president Nicole Neily told the DCNF. “The federal government will make really one-sided decisions because they will not have heard from the full breadth of parental experience.”
The DOE referred the DCNF to the National Parents and Families Engagement Council’s resource page which says, the council “helps facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families and caregivers, helping their voices play a critical role in how the nation’s children are recovering from the pandemic.”
The council includes several left-wing groups such as The National Parents Union, which states that schools should be transformed “to eradicate generational, institutions of oppression”, The League of United Latin American Citizens, which seeks to advance “educational attainment and political influence” of Hispanic Americans and The National Action Network, a group that “promotes a modern civil rights agenda,” according to the DOE.
Keri Rodrigues, the president of The National Parents Union, defended an open letter by the National School Board Association that compared parents “to domestic terrorists” and asked for federal law enforcement to oversee school boards.
Rodrigues defended the letter on Twitter and said parents should be handled by the DOJ rather than local law enforcement.
“If you threaten to kill school board members, you SHOULD hear from the Justice [Department],” Rodrigues said. “Some of these anti-mask/CRT knuckleheads tried this with us a couple weeks ago.”
“We are not partisans. We are parents who have diverse political views, and we will work with anyone, anywhere as they long as they share our mission to fight for a better future for children across the U.S. Any distraction from that mission is a disservice to our children that they simply can’t afford,” Rodrigues said in a statement to the DCNF.
America First Legal filed a Freedom of Information Act request to look into the creation of the council and its activities in combination with the lawsuit, a July 7 press release stated.
“There is a small group of educational activists that are pushing a lot of policies coming out of the department right now. If there was more balance on the committee and people pushed back, I think that would be a good thing,” Neily told the DCNF. “We have said that we would be happy to join.”
Fight for Schools and Families did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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