AG Garland Facing Questions About Connection to Zuckerberg-Linked Educational Company

Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

Attorney General Merrick Garland created a huge stir with his announcement that he would be coordinating the FBI and US Attorneys would be looking into potential threats against schools and school boards after the National School Board Association suggested that parents were engaging in “domestic terrorism” when they were objecting to things like Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the schools.

Many were concerned that Garland’s action was a political move meant to chill the rights of parents to protest and be involved in the education given to their children because the anti-CRT movement has gained a lot of steam. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would stand in the way of any political effort to go after parents just for standing up for their rights to speak on behalf of their children.

Now some are raising questions about a possible conflict of interest that Garland might have in regard to his decision.

Asra Q. Nomani, who represents Parents Defending Education (PDE), is raising questions about the man to whom Garland’s daughter is married.

From Fox News:

“Merrick Garland has declared a war on parents,” Asra Nomani of Parents Defending Education (PDE) tweeted Tuesday. “His daughter is married to the cofounder of @PanoramaEd which is under fire for its multimillion contracts with school boards. At @DefendingEd, parents sent us tips. We raised the alarm. Now Garland is trying to silence parents.” [….]

PDE previously flagged a $1.8 million contract for Panorama to conduct social and emotional learning (SEL) monitoring in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), resulting in data on students. Earlier in September, that number was bumped up to more than $2 million as part of a contract addition with Panorama.

Panorama’s contract was part of a broader, $78.8 million investment of coronavirus relief that FCPS directed towards a “welcoming” and “culturally responsive” environment for students. Its website explains that the funding is intended to “support equity professional development for school teams, and social-emotional staff to work directly with departments and school-based teams.”

A more detailed breakdown of FCPS’ plan showed the majority ($46.2 million) designated for “Intervention Special Education Teacher Contracts.” But it also showed $2.2 million going toward “Equity PD for School Teams” and $140,115 toward “Equity PD for Equity Leads” — both apparently referring to professional development for staff and faculty.

Panorama also has ties to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. That’s raising more questions, especially with Facebook coming under the gun because of a “whistleblower” and concerns about how it uses data.

“[I]t’s outrageous Fairfax County Public Schools is collaborating with a for-profit company funded by Mark Zuckerberg,” Nomani, whose son previously attended an FCPS school, told Fox News. “In 2012, Zuckerberg admitted to performing ’emotional manipulation’ studies on Facebook users without their consent or knowledge. His involvement today with surveys examining students’ mental health is beyond the pale. Schools must stop trying to manipulate students and focus instead on educating students.”

Fox reached out to both the DOJ and Xan Tanner but they haven’t yet replied. But Garland needs to answer here, not just on this question but on the reason for this move in general, given that many already believe it to be political. Part of the problem here is that Garland hasn’t even established a rationale for any kind of federal intervention. If there are individual crimes from any individual action getting out of hand, he hasn’t established why that isn’t well within the purview of local law enforcement. What qualifies this for federal action?

This especially rings hollow when you consider that we had an anti-government movement that spanned the nation, that attacked state, federal, and local buildings and law enforcement for more than a year — that, in fact, is still actively doing so in some places — but Garland hasn’t seen fit to actually pursue collaborative action against the radical leftists behind that movement. That movement involved millions in property damage, continuing riots, hundreds of law enforcement injured, and many people dead.

But he wants to look into parents who are concerned about their children?