Friday, August 31, 2018

Education Department says school officials have always been able to use federal money to buy teachers guns

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Friday that she has "no intention of taking any action concerning the purchase of firearms or firearms training for school staff," a step that may allow state and local officials buy guns with funds from a grant program her department manages.

"Congress did not authorize me or the department to make those decisions," DeVos wrote, replying to a letter from Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia "and dozens of other Democratic lawmakers" concerned about the idea, Education Week reports.

In the school-safety package it passed in March, Congress said the money couldn't be used to buy guns, but that doesn't apply to Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, a program "that makes no mention of prohibiting weapons purchases," The New York Times reported last week.

The Times said DeVos could "use her discretion to approve any state or district plans to use grant funding for firearms and firearm training," but one of her top deputies told Maria Danilova of The Associated Press that states have always had the power to decide how to use the money.

Frank Brogan, assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, said arming educators “is a good example of a profoundly personal decision on the part of a school or a school district or even a state,” Danilova reports, adding, "President Donald Trump and DeVos have said that schools may benefit from having armed teachers and should have that option. . . . Democrats and education groups have argued, however, that the funds are intended for academics, not guns."

"Democrats said they were outraged" by the statements fo Brogan and DeVos, Kimberly Hefling and Michael Stratford report for Politico.

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