Betsy DeVos' Roundtable Appearance In Upper Arlington Takes Some Officials By Surprise

Jul 24, 2020

Some local school administrators and local elected officials say they were surprised to see U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaking at an Upper Arlington Christian academy on Thursday.

DeVos participated in a roundtable discussion at the Tree of Life school with Republican lawmakers who support school choice. Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) says she was surprised when she saw on Twitter that Devos was in her city discussing education during the pandemic.

“At the very least, I think some of the local elected officials who work on education, including our school board members and members of the General Assembly, would be at least given a heads up, but from my understanding, none of us were," Russo said.

Republican lawmakers who support school choice, including Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and state Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), did attend the event.  

A Columbus City Schools spokeswoman says the district was not notified of DeVos' appearance ahead of time.

DeVos, a big proponent of school choice, said in her opening remarks that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows the need for families to have more choices about education.

"Many parents have seen their child's assigned school simply fail to rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of the moment," she said.

DeVos also repeated comments about the need for schools to be "fully operational" in the fall. President Trump has made similar statements, although he softened his stance Thursday in saying schools in some coronavirus hot spots may need to continue focusing on remote learning.