Devos, Democrats Call for Hearings on School Safety
The Hill

In the days following a tragic school shooting at a Florida high school, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, as well as a number of Congressional Democrats have called on Congress to hold hearings on school safety.


Last week during a radio interview, Secretary DeVos proposed that Congress schedule hearings on school safety in light of recent school shootings.  “Congress needs to be holding hearings on these issues and we’ve seen lots of discussion on this every time we’ve had an incident,” DeVos said.  “We need to have a conversation at the level where lawmakers can actually impact the future.”


In addition, all 17 Democrats on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce sent a letter last Friday to Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) noting their support of DeVos’ request for hearings on the topic.


Hearings have not been scheduled yet by the House Committee, but Secretary DeVos and President Trump met with students, parents, and school leaders on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss potential solutions and preventive measures that schools can take to avoid events like this in the future or to be better prepared to handle the situation if it does occur.


During those meetings, the President proposed eliminating gun-free zones in schools and allowing educators trained to use firearms to possess guns on school property, even suggesting that teachers carrying firearms be provided with a bonus.  The President noted that arming teachers could deter individuals from carrying out an attack, or, if an attack does occur, could provide an immediate response before emergency responders arrive on location.


Some participants at the meeting agreed with the President’s suggestions, while others proposed focusing more on ensuring troubled students receive mental health services and counseling and passing stricter gun laws and regulations, such as raising the age limit for buying certain firearms and expanding background checks.  The President has said in recent days that he would support raising the legal age to buy weapons and implementing comprehensive background checks that consider mental health.


It is unclear whether Chairwoman Foxx will schedule hearings on the topic, but the issue of school safety is sure to remain a topic of discussion among lawmakers and school leaders in the coming weeks.


Resources: Alyson Klein, “Trump: Nation Should Consider Arming Teachers to Prevent School Shootings,” Education Week: Politics K-12, February 21, 2018. Moriah Balingit, “Betsy DeVos and Democrats Call for Congressional Hearings in Wake of Florida School Shooting,” Washington Post, February 16, 2018.


Author: KSC

About the Author

Kelly Christiansen is an associate with the Washington, DC law firm of Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC. Established in 1980, the Firm is nationally recognized for its federal education regulatory and legislative practice, providing legal advice regarding compliance with all major federal education programs as well as the federal grants management requirements, including the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR). In addition, they work with agencies on federal spending flexibility, allowability, policies and procedures, audit defense and resolution and legislative updates. The Firm provides government relations services for the National Title I Association.