DeVos Faces School Safety Questioning During Capitol Hill Testimony

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday that school safety should be a heightened priority for lawmakers, especially at the state and local levels, following the deadly high school shooting in Texas last week.

“We must ensure our children are safe at school. This administration is committed to keeping our nation’s students and teachers safe at school,” DeVos told the House Education Committee.

While making no direct mention of guns, she stressed that the fatal shooting at Santa Fe High School — which left 10 dead and 12 additional injured — was the “most recent, devastating reminder that our nation must come together to address the underlying issues that create a culture of violence.”

She offered that her department’s Federal Commission on School Safety would make a concerted effort to address violence in the nation’s schools and work toward solutions in the near future. 

“The commission looks forward to delivering best practices and findings by year’s end,” she said.

She also faced committee questioning regarding for-profit schools and could not produce an answer for Rep. Susan Davis’ (D-Calif.) inquiry on the number of agents assigned to investigate fraud within that system. The New York Times reported that the Education Department is picking apart the team assigned to probe the misuse of funds put in place by former President Barack Obama.

DeVos has faced criticism for her alleged lack of experience and handling of the department. Back in April, she faced particular scrutiny when she revealed on “60 Minutes” that she had neglected to visit struggling public schools, even those within her home state.

Following that interview, congressional Democrats slammed DeVos. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) tweeted that she was “rich, white, and dumber than a bag of hammers.”

Trump’s pick to head up the Department of Education was narrowly confirmed in February 2017 despite efforts from Democrats to block her nomination. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.