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Secretary DeVos’ Latest Gaffe: Misunderstanding Public School’s Requirement to Education EVERYONE

May 25, 2018

Earlier this week, USDOE Secretary Betsy DeVos, in her testimony to the House education committee, said it was up to schools to decide whether or not they should report undocumented students to ICE. Ms. DeVos may wish that were the case, but, as Politico noted in its daily newsletter, it is NOT so. Here’s an excerpt from today’s Morning Education newsletter, with my emphases added:

HISPANIC CAUCUS CALLS ON DEVOS TO CLARIFY COMMENTS ON UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to clarify comments she made earlier this week that it’s up to schools whether to turn in students they suspect are undocumented to immigration officials. The comments, made Tuesday before the House education committee, sparked an outcry from civil rights groups, which say DeVos’ statement runs counter to the Supreme Court’s 1982 ruling in Plyler v. Doe that guaranteed the rights of students to receive a public education regardless of their immigration status.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), the caucus chairwoman, said in a statement that DeVos’ “attempt to walk back” the comments isn’t enough. Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill told HuffPost on Wednesday that DeVos’ position is that “schools must comply with Plyler and all other applicable and relevant law.” Lujan Grisham on Thursday called on DeVos to clarify her remarks. “The Secretary showed a sophomoric understanding of the law and at minimum used her bully pulpit to recklessly send a mixed signal to school districts across the nation that complying with federal law and longstanding legal precedent is optional,” Lujan Grisham said. “Instead she should have quickly defended the rights of children, regardless of their immigration status, to a public K-12 education and defended a child’s right to be safe while at school.”

Hill told Morning Education in an email that “the Secretary has said repeatedly, we are a nation of laws and we are also a nation of compassion. The Secretary’s position remains that schools must comply with Plyler and all other applicable law and regulation. She has also maintained that all children, regardless of immigration status, are guaranteed access to a K-12 public education.” Hill also pointed to a November letter that the department’s Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs Peter Oppenheim sent to then-Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) that says: “The Department of Education and the Department of Justice remain fully committed to the continued implementation of this fundamental decision from the highest Court in the land…”

Ms. Hill can correct Ms. DeVos’ mis-statements, but this blogger believes that these mis-statements reflect the true feelings of Ms. DeVos, who, like her boss Mr. Trump and his base supporters, would be happy to see  all immigrant children deported. Kudos to those elected officials who listen carefully to Ms. DeVos’ statements and call her out when she runs astray of the constitution.

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