TRUMP'S DEMAND THAT SCHOOLS FULLY REOPEN SPURNED BY BIG DISTRICTS DEVOS SLAMMED FOR MEETINGS WITH CONSERVATIVES WHILE SCHOOL REOPENING DEBATE RAGES
DeVos slammed for meetings with conservatives while school reopening debate rages
By Nicole Gaudiano
WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is holding three virtual meetings this week with members of the conservative Federalist Society, prompting the nation's largest teachers union to criticize her for spending time on political events rather than plans for reopening schools shuttered by the pandemic.
The organization announced that she and high-level staff are holding virtual meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with its chapters in Alabama, Ohio and Arizona to discuss her recently published Title IX regulation governing sexual misconduct in schools and colleges. It will go into effect on Aug. 14.
The meetings are closed to the press and are not listed on her public schedule. DeVos has no events on her public schedule this week. On Sunday, she appeared on two news shows to defend the Trump administration's push to fully reopen schools for the coming academic year, as a national debate rages over whether it's safe to send kids back to classrooms.
The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union, says she needs to cancel the events and focus on helping parents, health experts and educators reopen schools safely.
“Rather than working on a plan to reopen schools safely this fall, DeVos is holding closed-door political events for her ideological allies this week,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement.
Background: DeVos and her staff have participated in other closed-press meetings recently with Federalist Society chapters. POLITICO asked for her remarks after her virtual conversation last month with The Federalist Society’s Michigan Lawyers Chapter and a spokesperson said: "The engagement was for their members and was always closed to the press. We don’t typically release her remarks for these types of meetings."
In January, when DeVos spoke to a Federalist Society gathering in the Missouri State Capitol building, she discussed her then-forthcoming Title IX regulation and called the Obama administration’s approach an "egregious use of government force," according to prepared remarks the Education Department shared with POLITICO. Those remarks were aired by ABC17 News.
The Federalist Society has organized numerous discussions of Title IX in the past, saying it's an important legal question.
DeVos ties: NPR reported in 2018 that the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, formerly the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, had been a top contributor to the Federalist Society and that the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has given as well.