F.B.I. Set Plan to Track Threats Against School Boards and Teachers

The Department of Justice also said it would begin “a series of additional efforts in the coming days aimed at addressing the rise in criminal behavior directed toward school personnel,” including a task force that would include the offices of the US Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division and the Department of Homeland Security. and civil rights department.

During censorship hearings last month, Republicans described the effort as an attack on parents who have criticized issues such as mask mandates, curricula on race and policies on gender issues. As the debates heated up, physical fights, arrests, disorderly behavior and threats against school officials increasingly made headlines.

Some Republicans said the memo certainly has a political cast, as it was released just days after state school board leaders called on President Biden in a letter to address school safety issues. The teachers who wrote the letter later apologized for some of its inflammatory language, including a comparison between protesting parents and domestic terrorists.

Several Republicans in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees said the directive to consider harassment and threats — particularly those involving the department’s counterterrorism division — echoed the same language that teachers have fallen back on and could have a chilling effect on parents who want to express their opinions. Complaints, even if that was not the intent.

Mr. Garland denied launching his initiative to placate the White House, repeating several times that his directive was only intended to address violence and threats of violence, and that the department would not crack down on free speech.

However, a Justice Department whistleblower recently shared the office’s memo about the new threat tag with Republican lawmakers, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to Mr. Garland on Tuesday.

Republicans suggested that the memo, which directed the FBI’s counterterrorism division to use the mark when investigating potential cases of school violence, showed Mr. Garland was not entirely accurate when he testified before them last month.

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