The Department of Education announced Monday it was disbanding a parent engagement council it launched earlier this year after several conservative organizations sued alleging the formation of the council violated federal law.
The National Parents and Families Engagement Council will be permanently disbanded barely six months after it was established, after a number of conservative organizations, including several parent groups, sued to stop the council, which they said was full of “yes men” and hadn’t been properly established in accordance with federal law.
“On June 14, the Department announced the creation of the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. Several organizations subsequently sued, alleging that the Department violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act when it established the council,” the Department of Education said in a statement. “The Department disagrees, but has decided to not move forward with the National Parents and Families Engagement Council. The Department will continue connecting with individual parents and families across the country, including through townhalls, and providing parents and families with a wide array of tools and resources to use to support our students.”
The lawsuit had been spearheaded by the conservative legal group America First Legal, which touted the demise of the council as “a significant victory for the American people,” and it said had been set up as an attempt by the Biden administration to “paper over their open hostility towards parents and families.”
“It was just a little over a year ago that the Biden administration, through Attorney General Merrick Garland, made the decision to target parents for speaking out at school board meetings,” America First Legal Vice President Gene Hamilton said in a statement. “While we continue to seek justice and accountability for the issuance of the Attorney General’s absurd October 2021 memorandum that initiated this whole sequence of events, we are tremendously proud to have partnered with other concerned patriots to effectively end the Biden administration’s faux council.”
Criticism of the council stemmed primarily from its makeup, which included a number of known progressive-leaning groups such as the National Parent Teacher Association, UnidosUS, and the National Parents Union.
At the time of the council’s formation, Nicole Neily, the president of the conservative parent activist organization Parents Defending Education, blasted the council for its “astonishing” lack of ideological diversity and accused the Biden administration of “looking for a group of yes men who would rubber-stamp their agenda.” Neily’s organization was among the groups that signed on to the lawsuit challenging the legality of the council.
“We are gratified that Secretary [Miguel] Cardona’s Potemkin village ‘Parents Council’ will be disbanded because families should never be used merely as props to advance progressive policies,” Neily said Monday. “Parental engagement is essential for students to succeed; accordingly, it is critical that ALL voices and perspectives be integrated into any feedback mechanism that the Biden administration operates — and that the Department of Education respect the rule of law.”
Ian Prior, the executive director of the political action committee Fight for Schools and a senior adviser at America First Legal, likewise celebrated the council’s demise, noting that the Biden administration had “done everything in its power to silence the voice of parents who are standing up on behalf of their children against the Education Industrial Complex.”
“This faux parents council was nothing more than the administration trying to rig the system once more by stacking the deck with the very special interest groups that awakened parents across America to their long game to politicize public schools with a far-left, anti-parent agenda,” Prior said. “This is a major win for parental rights and should serve as a message to the Biden administration — we have only just begun to fight for our children’s future.”