Betsy DeVos visits Parkland school, angers shooting survivors

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made a contentious visit to the site of last month’s Florida school shooting Wednesday, in which she was criticized by survivors and abruptly walked out of her own press conference.

DeVos spent the morning at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where former student Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day. Her visit immediately sparked criticism and backlash from shooting survivors and advocates on social media.

“Do something unexpected: answer our questions,” Aly Sheehy tweeted at 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?”

Emma Gonzalez, who captured the world’s attention when she called “BS” on Trump and the National Rifle Association following the school shooting, dismissed DeVos with a tweet to her 1.2 million followers.

When the visit was announced Tuesday evening she wrote it was a “good thing I was already planning on sleeping in that day.”

RELATED: Betsy DeVos through the years

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Betsy DeVos through the years
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Schwalm

Continuing a day of one-on-one meetings with candidates for positions in his cabinet, President-elect Donald Trump met with Betsy DeVos, two polar opposites thought to be in contention for the education portfolio.

(Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Jordan?s Queen Rania speak with students and administrators at the Excel Academy public charter school in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks before U.S. President Donald Trump signed a memorandum "Increasing Access to High-Quality Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education" in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (L), who was dressed as Ms. Frizzle from 'The Magic Schoolbus' series, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway attend Halloween at the White House on the South Lawn October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump gave cookies away to costumed trick-or-treaters one day before the Halloween holiday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence stand with Betsy DeVos before their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Continuing a day of one-on-one meetings with candidates for positions in his cabinet, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Betsy DeVos, two polar opposites thought to be in contention for the education portfolio.

(Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (C, background) waits to interrupt Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she speaks to students at a school choice event at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Grant Hill #33 of the Los Angeles Clippers shakes hands with Owner Dick DeVos, Chairman of Amway and his wife Betsy DeVos during the game against the Orlando Magic during the game on February 6, 2013 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush wave after they were introduced by the Chair of the Michigan Republican Party Betsy DeVos 30 October 2004 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bush is on his final three days of campaigning prior for the election November 02.

(STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos makes remarks during a major policy address on Title IX enforcement, which in college covers sexual harassment, rape and assault, at George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and U.S. first lady Melania Trump are greeted by a student during a visit the Excel Academy public charter school in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (C) and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price (R) attend a cabinet meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, joined by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (from L), advisor Jared Kushner and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, thanks fourth-grade students Janayah Chatelier (3rd R) and Landon Fritz (R) for the "Happy Birthday Florida" card they gave him as he visits their classroom at Saint Andrew Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a meeting with teachers and parents at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (2nd R) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) arrive with President Donald Trump aboard Air Force One at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida, U.S. March 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
CAMBRIDGE, MA - SEPTEMBER 28: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks in a forum at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government on Thursday, September 28, 2017. (Photo by Katye Martens Brier for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence emerge with Betsy DeVos after their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

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Student Sarah Chadwick echoed the sentiment: “Literally no one asked for this,” she tweeted.

The brutal massacre has forced the issue of gun violence and gun safety laws to the forefront, with student survivors fiercely calling for change and stricter regulations. President Trump has since proposed banning bump stocks and arming school staff.

DeVos, who once advocated for arming teachers so that they might protect themselves from bears, said she would support a program for personnel to be trained to carry firearms.

“Let’s be clear, I think to say ‘arming teachers’ is an over simplification. 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.

She also told reporters she toured the school with student journalists, and vowed to return to sit down with them and further delve into the issues. The editor of the school newspaper, “The Eagle Eye” however, said DeVos “refused to even meet/speak with students.”

“I don’t understand the point of her being here,” she tweeted.

RELATED: Vigils held after deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

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Vigils held after deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Vigils held after deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
People attend a candlelight vigil the day after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Students mourn during a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A woman lights a candle during a vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Residents attend a candlelight vigil the day after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A man reacts during a candlelight vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Daniel Journey (C), an 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, attends a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at his school, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. Journey said he lost two friends he had known and grown up with since they were seven years old in the shooting. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A handwritten note to a lost friend is surrounded by candles and flowers at a candlelight vigil the day after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A student places a candle with other tributes at a vigil the day after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Mourners react during a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Mourners react during a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A student rests his head against his mother as they attend a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Students mourn at a community prayer vigil for victims of yesterday's shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, at Parkridge Church in Pompano Beach, Florida, U.S., February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
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And DeVos’ brief appearance at the Parkland high school isn’t the only thing sparking backlash.

When further pressed on the issue of arming school staff, with questions surrounding training standards and student opposition to such a program, DeVos walked away from her podium and ended the press conference.

The Florida Senate earlier this week passed a provision that allows for school personnel to be come certified law enforcement officers and carry weapons on campus. The House is slated to consider the measure — among others, including a bump stock ban and raising the age to buy a gun to 21 — Wednesday afternoon.

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