Garland defends school board memo amid Republican criticism

Senate Judiciary Garland

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday defended a memo aimed at combating threats against school officials nationwide while Republicans insisted he rescind the directive. He signaled he had no plans to do so despite their criticism.

The memo took center stage as Garland appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee – his second congressional appearance in a week – and said it was meant to respond to violence and threats of violence directed against local school board officials.

The memo came out Oct. 4, less than a week after the National School Board Association wrote the Biden administration about the threats to school officials and asked for help. Some school board meetings have devolved into shouting contests over issues such as how racial issues are taught, masks in schools, and COVID-19 vaccines and testing requirements.

Republicans say Garland went too far in instructing Justice Department divisions to coordinate with local law enforcement. In his memo Garland said there had been “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.”

An accompanying news release mentioned the FBI, the department’s criminal division, national security division, civil rights division and other parts.

“The obligation of the Justice De