President Donald Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited the site of last month’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, FL on Wednesday — but her visit didn’t go over too well with the community.
DeVos visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a gunman killed 17 people on February 14 — a tragedy which has since sparked a national conversation about gun law reforms.
Many of the student survivors of the shooting have laid into lawmakers for not taking enough action to keep children safe in school, or for taking money from the National Rifle Association while remaining silent on the matter of gun control. The Trump administration was heavily criticized by the students as well, as Trump has repeatedly flip-flopped on his statements regarding gun laws. The NRA spent more than $30 million in support of Trump during the 2016 election.
A number of student leaders — including those behind the Never Again Movement aimed at stopping school shootings — at Stoneman Douglas High School criticized DeVos’ visit and discussed the possibility of a walkout.
“Good thing I was already planning on sleeping in tomorrow,” Emma González tweeted after it was announced DeVos was planning a visit.
Good thing I was already planning on sleeping in tomorrow https://t.co/Oy6ALcDHLZ
— Emma González (@Emma4Change) March 7, 2018
“Literally no one asked for this,” Sarah Chadwick, another Parkland student, tweeted.
Literally no one asked for this https://t.co/79A54IbIht
— Sarah Chadwick// #NEVERAGAIN (@sarahchad_) March 7, 2018
But even though DeVos’ visit came on the first full day of class at Stoneman Douglas since the shooting, she reportedly did not spend much time speaking with the students, which angered some of them further.
“Do something unexpected: answer our questions,” student Aly Sheehy tweeted to DeVos. “You came to our school just for publicity and avoided our questions for the 90 minutes you were actually here. How about you do your job?”
Do something unexpected: answer our questions. You came to our school just for publicity and avoided our questions for the 90 minutes you were actually here. How about you actually do your job? #neveragain #DoYourJob https://t.co/4Ts0INq0gR
— Aly Sheehy🦅 (@Aly_Sheehy) March 7, 2018
“I thought she would at least give us her ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but she refused to even meet/speak with students,” student Carly Novell, who edits the school newspaper, tweeted. “I don’t understand the point of her being here”
I thought she would at least give us her “thoughts and prayers,” but she refused to even meet/speak with students. I don’t understand the point of her being here
— carly (@car_nove) March 7, 2018
Betsy Devos came to my school, talked to three people, and pet a dog. This is incase the press tries to say something else later
— Alanna//#NEVERAGAIN (@AgCI3Cu2) March 7, 2018
DeVos did hold a brief press conference, but abruptly left the podium and ended it after being pressed on her support for arming teachers.
“Let’s be clear, I think to say ‘arming teachers’ is an over-simplification,” DeVos said, despite her past advocacy for the idea. “It isn’t a program that needs to be required or mandated for every community,” she told reporters in a press conference following her visit with Stoneman Douglas students.”