A group of high school journalists were barred from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ speaking event

  • Students from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky, tried to attend a roundtable discussion featuring Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on April 17.
  • The students were turned away at the door because they had not sent in an RSVP and had never received an invitation to the roundtable, which they said was advertised as an open press event.
  • The students have since accused DeVos of excluding them from the education discussion and published an editorial titled “No Seat at the Roundtable.”
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High school journalists were turned away from a Betsy DeVos speaking event in Kentucky, so they published an editorial criticizing the education secretary instead.

Students from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky, tried to attend a roundtable discussion with Republican governor Matt Bevin and DeVos on April 17 at a local community college, in hopes of writing up the event for their student paper, the PLD Lamplighter.

The students wanted to appear at the event in person because Devos previously expressed skepticism of online critics. “It is easy to be nasty hiding behind screens and Twitter handles. It’s not so easy face to face,” she said at a Philadelphia student Town Hall in 2018.

But they were turned away from the open press event, because they had not sent in an RSVP and had never received an invitation to the roundtable, according to the Washington Post.

Now the students are accusing DeVos of excluding students from the discussion on education and have published an editorial titled “No Seat at the Roundtable.”

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“How odd is it that even though future generations of students’ experiences could be based on what was discussed, that we, actual students, were turned away?” The students asked in their piece.

“We expected the event to be intense,” the student journalists wrote. “We expected there to be a lot of information to cover. But not being able to exercise our rights under the First Amendment was something we never thought would happen. We weren’t prepared for that.”

A spokesperson for DeVos told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the education secretary’s staff was not made aware of the student journalists the day of the event.

“We welcome student journalists and would have been happy for them to be in attendance. We are looking into what, if any, miscommunication might have happened between other staff on site for the event,” the spokesperson said.