Merrick Garland Has Conflict of Interest

Daughter is married to Big Tech cofounder data mining kids

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has shocked America with a declaration of war on parents, marshaling the powers of the FBI against parents. What isn’t mentioned? Garland’s daughter is married to the cofounder of a Big Tech business — Panorama Education — funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Panorama Education will profit from Garland’s outrageous silencing of parents who are challenging its data mining of K-12 students.

Allow me to peel back the onion.

In early September, a parent tipped us off at Parents Defending Education, an advocacy group, that Fairfax County Public Schools had quietly signed a $1.8 million contract with Panorama Education, a Boston-based Big Tech contractor, to conduct a multi-year “social and emotional learning screener,” giving them the right to collect “psychometrics” on the school district’s 180,000 students with invasive questions such as whether they feel “sad” or “gender fluid.”

Panorama Education staff gets status as “school officials” so they have the right to private student data under federal law, according to an email just sent by a Fairfax County school district official.

This is federal law that Garland would have to enforce and Big Tech is now circumventing.

Deborah E. Scott, director of intervention and prevention services at Fairfax County Public Schools, wrote in the email: “FCPS is permitted under the law to share student data with outside vendors who meet the criteria of the ‘school official’ exception under the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (“FERPA”). Third-parties who are considered ‘school officials’ are permitted to receive student data absent parent consent.”

Absent parent consent.

Why does it matter? Facebook founder Zuckerberg is an investor in Panorama Education, which is signing contracts with school boards across the country that are providing the company a backdoor to children’s most intimate feelings. The company is now a Trojan horse for Big Tech in K-12 schools. A whistleblower yesterday testified in Congress that Zuckerberg has been exploiting new “growth projects.”

K-12 education is clearly one of those “growth projects.”

Under fire for negatively harming the mental health of children, Zuckerberg and Garland’s family are now in the business of data mining children’s most intimate emotions — and supposedly help children deal with the mental health issues Zuckerberg helped manifest.

Big Tech is now involved in the data mining the minds of America’s kids — with the blessing of school boards.

We sought comment from Panorama Education and Fairfax County Public Schools on September 7. They didn’t respond. We published a dispatch that day. We advised parents to fill out an “opt-out” form. (The deadline is this Friday, October 8.)

Fox News reporter Sam Dorman published an article about the deal on September 8, including the fact that the school board was diverting COVID money. Parents started voicing their opposition, and I wrote a column on September 23 for the local Fairfax Times about their concerns. That night, I spoke to our school board and raised issue. We discovered in late September that — unbeknownst to parents — the school board had in fact signed a new agreement increasing the contract to $2.4 million from the original $1.8 million, an increase of about $600,000.

Our parent whistleblower sent us the tip she found with a simple Google search: Garland’s daughter  is married to Xan Tanner, a cofounder of Panorama Education. Garland’s family is profiting off the business decisions of school boards. Garland’s family will benefit from the silencing of parents.

Panorama Education has built a booming business with school boards, approving rich contracts collecting data on students with “screeners.”

This conflict of interest and violation of student privacy laws should anger all Americans. Garland needs to issue a ceasefire. Recuse himself. Apologize to all of America’s parents. And get Big Tech out of K-12 schools.

Asra Q. Nomani is vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education. She is a former reporter at the Wall Street Journal. She can be reached at asra@asranomani.com.