- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2017

Protesters physically blocked newly-confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from entering a Washington, D.C., public school Friday morning.

Mrs. DeVos eventually made it into Jefferson Middle School Academy, her first visit to a public school since her confirmation Tuesday, after she ran into a group of protesters that initially prevented her from entering the school, ABC News affiliate WJLA reported.

The education secretary was met by the protesters at the school’s back entrance after a parent-teacher demonstration apparently blocked the road by the front entrance. WJLA’s footage of the encounter showed the protesters using their bodies to block Mrs. DeVos from walking up the ramp to the door. She and her team quickly turned around and headed toward their vehicle, but were followed and yelled at by the demonstrators.

One protester holding a Black Lives Matter sign, who repeatedly yelled, “Shame,” tried to block the vehicle as they tried to leave.

D.C. Mayor Murlel Bowser said, “This bears repeating: Protest — peaceful protest — is fine, but we do not condone violence towards anyone. D.C. has the fastest-growing urban school district in America. We welcome Betsy DeVos and anyone who wants to learn more about our schools.”

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway tweeted a link to the video and asked, “Don’t we want the Sec of Education to visit schools?”

Other videos posted by WJLA showed police clashing with protesters who tried to stand in front of the vehicle carrying Mrs. DeVos.

The protesters who blocked Mrs. DeVos were reportedly not affiliated with the parent-teacher demonstration at the front of the school, which was organized by the Washington Teacher’s Union. Union members, while opposing Mrs. DeVos‘ confirmation, greeted the education secretary in peace and said they hoped she would be successful, WJLA reported.

Mrs. Devos issued a statement Friday thanking school officials for welcoming her.

“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,” she said. “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.”


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