DOJ to investigate threats against teachers, school board members nationwide
(The Hill) - The agency said in a statement on Monday that it was launching a series of efforts “in the coming days” to address rising criminal conduct “directed toward school personnel.”
The department said it was creating a task force to determine how federal enforcement tools could be used to prosecute criminal conduct toward teachers, and how to assist state and local authorities investigate such threats where such instances may not constitute federal crimes.
In addition, the department will create specialized training and guidance to help school board members and other potential victims understand how to report threatening conduct and how to preserve evidence of the threats to aid in investigations.
The announcement comes after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked President Biden for “immediate assistance” to help teachers, school board members and students who have seen threats over mask mandates and critical race theory.
The letter noted that law enforcement in some communities needed extra help monitoring threat levels, and specifically asked for resources from the DOJ, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
In a memorandum dated Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland cited a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against teachers and other school staff who “participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools.”
“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” he continued.
NSBA interim executive director and CEO Chip Slaven said in a statement that the Justice Department’s announcement sends a “strong message to individuals with violent intent who are focused on causing chaos, disrupting our public schools, and driving wedges between school boards and the parents, students, and communities they serve.”