Education Secretary DeVos visits Denver school for special-needs children

DENVER -- One of the most controversial figures in the Trump administration stopped in Denver on Wednesday, continuing her nationwide Rethink Schools tour.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos stopped at Firefly Autism House, a privately run school for students with special needs.

Part of its funding includes receiving students from public school districts, the type of education DeVos has voiced support for in the past.

Firefly is also the school at the center of a controversial Supreme Court Case, Endrew F. vs. Douglas County Schools.

The Supreme Court ruled in March in favor of the family of Endrew F., citing Douglas County did not meet the needs of Endrew. And unless it changes its standards, it should pay for Endrew's schooling at Firefly.

"Students should learn in an environment that meets their individual needs no matter what word comes before school. Endrew's parents showed courage in rejecting the low bar set for their son," DeVos said.

DeVos' visit sparked some criticism regarding why she didn't visit a public school while in Denver.

DeVos previously has been invited by several officials since criticizing Denver Public Schools over a lack of school choice options earlier this year.

"Well, it's a privilege to be in Denver and I expect to be back in Denver soon," DeVos said.

The event attracted very few protesters, but Michael Thomas came to make sure DeVos heard his message.

"She is a big fan of privatization of schools and one thing that should not be a for-profit entity are public schools," Thomas said.

On other issues DeVos said "it's really on Congress' plate now," responding to questions on whether she will issue any guidance on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to schools.

DeVos also said "we are focused on doing what's right for all students" when asked about survivor concerns over her decision to rescind Obama-era regulations regarding how schools handle sexual assault allegations.

For parents at Firefly, the visit was welcomed, seeing an ally in DeVos.

"I think the first step is learning about autism," parent John Griffith said.