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Biden Education Dept sued over new parents council that groups claim is ‘cabal’ of left-wing activists

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Parents’ rights groups are suing the Biden administration over the Education Department’s creation of a new parents council, which the groups argue is politically biased and violates federal law.

Fight for Schools, Parents Defending Education, and America First Legal filed a joint federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Education, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and the department’s National Parents and Families Engagement Council, which was created last month as a means to find “constructive ways to help families engage at the local level,” the department announced June 14.

The council was launched to “facilitate strong and effective relationships between schools and parents, families and caregivers,” according to the Education Department, following more than two years of protests from parents demanding more control in their children’s education amid decisions made by school boards surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona attend the National and State Teachers of the Year event at the White House on April 27, 2022.

President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona attend the National and State Teachers of the Year event at the White House on April 27, 2022.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The groups suing the Biden administration say the newly created council violates multiple provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that require balance and transparency.

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FACA requires that federal advisory committees have a membership that is “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the advisory committee.”

The groups claim in their lawsuit that the council’s members are allies of the Biden administration, and that nearly 80% of their leaders have donated to Biden or other Democrats. 

“Defendant Cardona selected members that are agreeable, not balanced,” the lawsuit states.

The groups claim that leaders at 11 of the 14 organizations selected for the committee donated to President Biden, Democratic lawmakers, Democratic fundraisers, or other associations or entities affiliated with Democrats, and that none of the organizations’ highest-ranking executive donated to Republicans or right-wing organizations.  

President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July celebration for military families at the White House, Monday, July 4, 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks during a Fourth of July celebration for military families at the White House, Monday, July 4, 2022.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Organizations selected for the council include Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and multiple pro-Black Lives Matter groups, including Mocha Moms Inc., United Parent Leaders Action Network (UPLAN), and UnidosUS.

“To have a fair balance of viewpoints and competent deliberation on students’ needs, there must be fairly equal representation from both sides of the political spectrum,” the lawsuit states. “That is not the case here, as the Council consists of groups that are already supportive of this administration.”

The groups say the council is also in violation of a FACA provision that requires the “records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by” the advisory committee shall be made available for “public inspection.”

The groups point to two press releases by Cardona about the council, one on June 14 that said the council would be meeting in “the coming weeks,” and another press release that same day that said “the council meets to discuss how children are recovering, the different ways schools are providing academic, mental health and social and emotional support, and how families can best constructively engage with schools.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visits Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on April 6, 2021.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visits Beverly Hills Middle School in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on April 6, 2021.
(Pete Bannan/MediaNews Group/Daily Times)

The groups say the council is violating FACA’s non-discretionary transparency and public access requirements by apparently meeting “without public notice; without making those meetings open to the public; and without timely notice in the Federal Register.”

“Plaintiffs only learned that the Council has met after the DOE indicated that meetings had occurred in its second Press Release,” the lawsuit states. “Regardless of whether the Council has already met, the DOE’s equivocation shows the deficiency in Defendants’ disclosure of information to the public, in violation of FACA.”

The lawsuit claims that the council causes injury to the suing groups because they now have to deploy more resources to investigate the council’s operations.

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