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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Friday she would not be deterred from working for the country’s children after being physically blocked from entering two Washington, D.C. school buildings.

DeVos eventually entered Jefferson Middle School Academy after being forced to turn away by protesters, one of whom draped her body across a stairwell, forcing DeVos to go back to her vehicle.

“I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education,” she said in a statement. “No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

She met with D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Jefferson Academy Principal Greg Dohmann, Superintendent Natalie Gordon, Chief of Schools John Davis and other school leaders, and thanked them for taking the time to meet with her.

DeVos said the meeting was productive and she wanted to visit the middle school on Seventh Street in Northwest Washington because it’s one of the best in the city.

She said meeting with the officials in that space was a sign of what she wanted from other American schools. She called Jefferson a “public middle school on the rise.”

“Focusing on their students and families is at the heart of Jefferson Academy’s approach, and that’s exactly what I believe is at the heart of providing an exceptional education,” she said. “Great teachers and leaders help make great schools, and I was honored to speak with Jefferson’s team about our shared commitment to strengthening public education.”

Both Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers president, and Arne Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary, said they oppose protesters who tried to keep DeVos out of the schools.

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