WASHINGTON — It's been all over social media — the Justice Department and the FBI are taking a renewed interest in what is going on in local school board meetings around the country.
The move is a direct result of recent threats directed toward school board members nationwide over everything from COVID-19 policies to the curriculum.
The decision, however, has created some confusion over what role the FBI is actually playing.
Schools and school boards are feeling pressure and facing threats they have never seen before.
In San Diego, California last month a board of education meeting had to be canceled after law enforcement reported protesters had made their way into offices.
In Mendon, Illinois, a man was recently charged with aggravated battery after allegedly hitting a school official.
Police in Worthington, Ohio have been forced to investigate a letter sent to a school official saying “we are coming after you."
In Beverly Hills, Michigan, police were forced to investigate a Nazi salute following a school board discussion over mask mandates.
The threats, and others, prompted the National School Board Association to write a letter to President Joe Biden.
“Dear Mr. President: America's public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat," the letter states.
"These heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism," it goes on to say.
The letter resulted in the Justice Department and the FBI announcing an intention to get involved.
But that has prompted controversy. Some parents believe speaking out at a school board meeting could get them labeled a ”domestic terrorist."
Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, recently tweeted,“Joe Biden's attorney general wants the FBI to go after parents for speaking out.”
Since there is some confusion with the Justice Department, what are they exactly prepared to do? What's the truth?
Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote a one-page memo.
It makes no mention of FBI agents showing up at school board meetings or labeling parents domestic terrorists.
But it does say, “I am directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings” over the next month with local leaders.
“These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” it continues.
The Justice Department, in a press release, explainedthis is about beginning a conversation with local leaders on how to better understand and respond to threats and that the constitutional right to speak out is still protected.