Education Secretary Betsy DeVos physically blocked by protesters from entering D.C. school

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was physically blocked by protesters from entering Jefferson Academy in SW, D.C. Friday morning. This was her first visit to a public school.

The protesters created a barrier to the entrance of the school, and began shouting.

DeVos turned away and walked toward her vehicle while protesters continued to yell, one screaming, "She doesn't represent anything that they stand for." Followed by chants, of "shame, shame, shame."

She did eventually make it into the school.

The Washington Teacher's Union organized a gathering outside of the school, but were not among the protesters who blocked her. They arrived earlier in the day and greeted DeVos in peace, but with a strong message.

The union, who said they did not support DeVos' nomination, stated they hoped she would be successful. They said if DeVos succeeds in her new role then everyone succeeds - including all public schools and teachers.

Ultimately, the union said they just wanted DeVos to hear their message - they support free public schools and equal education opportunities for all children.

While inside, DeVos met with teachers, the school's principal and the chancellor of D.C. public schools, in addition to touring the classrooms.

DeVos left the school around noon.

According to ABC7 reporter Tim Barber, D.C. police arrested an adult male for assaulting an officer outside of Jefferson Academy Friday morning.

Following this morning's incident, DeVos released this statement:

“I thank D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Jefferson Middle School Academy Principal Greg Dohmann, Superintendent Natalie Gordon and a tremendous team of administrators, teachers and students for welcoming me to Jefferson Middle School Academy today. Jefferson Academy is a public middle school on the rise and a great example of the successful collaborative innovations occurring within the D.C. Public Schools system.
“Focusing on their students and families is at the heart of Jefferson Academy’s approach, and that’s exactly what I believe is at the heart of providing an exceptional education. Great teachers and leaders help make great schools, and I was honored to speak with Jefferson’s team about our shared commitment to strengthening public education.
“I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

The former Michigan education activist was confirmed Tuesday as secretary of education in a tie breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

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