Whistleblower: FBI asked agents to track alleged school board threats

News of the leaked email led to backlash from conservatives, who claim the threat tracking process could be easily abused.

Attorney General Merrick Garland/U.S. Department of Justice

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the FBI is actively tracking alleged threats against school board members and teachers.

A whistleblowing FBI agent leaked an unclassified email sent on behalf of the counterterrorism and criminal divisions. The email instructs agents to track school board threats with the tag “EDUOFFICIALS.”

“The purpose of the threat tag is to help scope this threat on a nation level and provide an opportunity for comprehensive analysis of the threat picture for effective engagement with law enforcement partners at all levels,” according to the email.

In addition, the Oct. 20 email specifies three criteria that agents should use to evaluate potential threats: 1) if there is a “federal nexus,” 2) if there are any violations of federal law that need to be investigated, and 3) if there is any discernible motivation behind the threats.

“We share an obligation to ensure all individuals are able to do their jobs without threats of violence or fear for their safety,” the email adds.

News of the leaked email led to backlash from conservatives, who claim the threat tracking process could be easily abused to target run-of-the-mill parents angrily protesting their local school’s curricula and COVID policies.

On Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, who had first directed the FBI to mobilize resources against school board threats on Oct. 4, that raised questions about his Oct. 21 testimony on the issue before the Judiciary Committee.

“You testified that the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation were not using federal counterterrorism tools to target concerned parents at local school board meetings,” the congressman wrote. “This new information [in the leaked email] calls into question the accuracy and completeness of your sworn testimony.”

Rep. Jordan claimed that the leaked email reveals clear intent to use counterterrorism tools to address the purported threats. He gave Attorney General Garland a chance to “amend” his testimony and called on him to provide requested documents.

School boards have become ground zero for the contemporary culture war. Parents in states across the country are speaking out against mask mandates and the inclusion of critical race theory in school curricula, among other issues. Many school board meetings have turned contentious and even hostile, but legitimate threats against board members and educators are almost negligible.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.