Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is rebuking those who literally blocked her plan to visit a public school and begin mending fences with teachers after a highly contentious confirmation battle.
DeVos attempted to visit Jefferson Middle School Academy in southwest Washington D.C. this morning but WJLA-TV reports that protestors physically blocked her from entering. The station's video shows DeVos walking away from the school and getting back into her car. WJLA reports that she did eventually get into the school. It was her first visit to a public school since the Senate confirmed her nomination on Tuesday.
Several dozen protestors gathered outside the school shouting "we fight back!" The Washington Teacher's Union organized the event but WJLA reports that union protestors were not the ones that blocked DeVos.
In a statement released this afternoon DeVos warned "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."
DeVos also praised Jefferson as "a public middle school on the rise and a great example of the successful collaborative innovations occurring within the D.C. Public Schools system."
Former education secretary Arne Duncan spoke out againt the protest tweeting "let's all agree she really needs to be in public schools. Please let her in."
DeVos was confirmed by the narrowest possible margin--a tied vote in the Senate broken by Vice President Mike Pence. She has worked for years as an advocate and activist for school choice, earning the wrath of unions who fear she'll draw resources away from public schools. DeVos's supporters say she's not anti-public school but instead wants to provide families of all incomes and backgrounds with the ability to choose the best education options for their children.