New FOIA Document Asserts NSBA Knew of DOJ Memo Prior to Publication

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In a newly uncovered email between former National School Boards Association board members Pam Doyle and Beverly Slough (both of whose state chapters have since withdrawn from the NSBA) dated October 5, 2021, Ms. Doyle asserts that Chip Slaven (who was, at the time, the interim executive director of NSBA) “knew about the U.S. AG directives before they were published. … So much for communicating with the BOD.”

While a number of emails among the board discussed the fallout from Attorney General Merrick Garland’s infamous memo – which subsequently led to the creation of “threat tags” being used by the FBI – this is the first such mention of NSBA leadership having advanced notice of the Department of Justice’s memo prior to its release on October 4, 2021. According to the Washington Post, Slaven declined to accept a severance agreement that would bar him from discussing the letter with future employers or the media when he left NSBA.

During House and Senate oversight hearings, Garland asserted under oath that the memo was written in direct response to the NSBA’s since-retracted letter requesting federal intervention in school board issues. Despite the NSBA’s retraction, the Department of Justice has refused to retract its memo.

In response to these revelations, PDE hosted comment portals for the American people to express their concerns to the government:

  • Over 7300 people sent letters to the Department of Justice to demand an apology from Attorney General Garland;
  • Over 1700 people sent letters to the Department of Education’s Inspector General, requesting an investigation into the appointment of NSBA president Viola Garcia to a prestigious role on the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)— also known as “the nation’s report card”;
  • Over 1900 people have sent letters to the Department of Education and Department of Justice demanding full transparency about this apparent coordination between the NSBA, ED, and DOJ. Similar requests for transparency have come from outside organizations, as well as members of the House and Senate and state Attorneys General.

The full email exchange can be viewed here.