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Conservative parent groups excluded by Education Dept.

Biden’s creation of a national parent council might violate 1972 law

Conservative parent groups excluded by Education Dept.

Parents Defending Education and two other conservative parenting groups filed a lawsuit on July 6 against the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and the recently-announced advisory council for parents and families. The plaintiffs say that the council does not fairly represent families from different ideological perspectives and that the Biden administration disregarded laws that regulate advisory councils.

Cardona said in June that the National Parents and Families Engagement Council would represent diverse groups of parents and provide a way for parents to be involved in their children’s education. When the department first announced the council, 14 organizations were slated to be members, though a Department of Education spokesperson later said in an email that the council was “not limited” to those organizations.

Some included organizations advocate for specific segments of school populations such as students with disabilities or students in military families. Others work toward more involvement by parents, specifically fathers, or grandparents raising their grandchildren. Several groups support liberal positions on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The lawsuit argues that the creation of the council goes against the Federal Advisory Committee Act. FACA, passed in 1972, requires advisory committees to be composed of a balanced group of people of different viewpoints. According to the lawsuit, 80 percent of the leaders of the included organizations donated to Democratic causes or candidates, while none donated to Republicans. “The council’s membership is skewed because it is disproportionally composed of the Biden administration’s supporters,” the lawsuit reads, “and fails to reflect the diversity of opinions actually held by American parents, families, and caregivers, as it must for an objective and competent deliberative process.”

Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel of America First Legal, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the council a “partisan cheerleading squad.”

FACA rules also require committees to provide documents including meeting minutes to the public and a public notification period before each meeting. Last week’s lawsuit states the council has already met, in violation of these requirements, but representatives of two member organizations said that the council has not yet met. 

In the lawsuit, Parents Defending Education, America First Legal Foundation, and Fight for Schools and Families say that the council will “increase the likelihood of politicization in K-12 education.” The plaintiffs ask that the court prevent the council from meeting, bar the Department of Education from putting the council’s advice into practice, and ultimately disband it.

Lauren Dunn

Lauren covers education for WORLD’s digital, print, and podcast platforms. She is a graduate of Thomas Edison State University and World Journalism Institute, and she lives in Wichita, Kan.

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