School board opposes DeVos nomination

In a 5-1 vote, the Oxford Board of Education has passed a resolution opposing the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, calling on all U.S. senators to reject President Donald Trump’s nomination.

The motion, proposed by Treasurer Mike Schweig and seconded by Vice President Joyce Brasington, cited DeVos’ lack of experience in public education, a perceived ignorance of basic educational issues demonstrated by DeVos at the recent Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee confirmation hearing, and her history of supporting non-public charter schools.

“(As) school board members, (we need to) get the best information and (push for) the best circumstances for public school students,” Schweig said.

The resolution stated, “(Betsy DeVos) does not possess a degree in any educational field, and has never attended a public school, sent her children to a public school or worked in a public school.”

The motion also noted DeVos’ refusal to say whether private and charter schools receiving federal funds should be held to the same accountability standards as public schools, whether she will uphold current laws related to reporting on-campus sexual assault or whether she will promote equality for LGBTQ students.

“Oxford public school district prides itself on its rich history of providing an equitable learning environment to a diverse student body including students from a myriad of racial, ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds, students with disabilities and students who identify as LGBTQ and is committed to upholding the mandate of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all of its students,” the resolution stated.

Tom Donnelly cast the lone dissenting vote.

Donnelly later told this reporter he did not feel comfortable voting in favor of the resolution without having time to confirm each of its statements. The motion was not included on the official agenda.

“My ‘no’ vote was not a ‘yes’ vote for (DeVos)… it was simply… if I’m going to say ‘yes’ to (the resolution) I have to make sure that every (statement included in the motion) is true,” said Donnelly.

Schweig drafted the resolution, modeled after one passed by the East Lansing Board of Education earlier last week.

The resolution was sent to senators prior to the Jan. 31 vote on DeVos’ nomination.

Shortly before press time on Tuesday, DeVos was confirmed in a 12-11 vote by the HELP Committee. The final decision now rests with the U.S. Senate.