DeVos team says student journalists 'welcome' after high school students turned away at event

DeVos team says student journalists 'welcome' after high school students turned away at event
© Greg Nash

A spokesperson for Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosCongress should restore Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated individuals Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE on Friday said that student journalists are welcome at events after a group of high school students were turned away from a roundtable in Lexington, Ky.

Members of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School’s student publication, the PLD Lamplighter, were denied entrance into a roundtable meeting on school choice featuring DeVos and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) last Wednesday at a local community college.

The Dunbar students said in an editorial that a man told them the event was invitation only.

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They noted that “as students, we are the ones who are going to be affected by the proposed changes discussed at the roundtable, yet we were not allowed inside. 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?”

Department of Education press secretary Liz Hill told the Lexington Herald-Leader, which reported on the exclusion on Friday, that “no one from the Secretary’s staff was made aware that student journalists were attempting to attend the roundtable."

"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.”

Hill did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the situation from The Hill.

The Lamplighter reporters learned about the event from local news reports on April 16, the day before it was scheduled to take place.

However, a news release for the event sent out the day before said that journalists who wanted to attend had to RSVP by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Herald-Leader.

According to the students' editorial, they did not receive the news release. 

“Not that we’re happy about it, but we understand why a student news organization wouldn’t have been considered important enough to receive a copy of the media press release," the editorial said.

The students still felt they should have been allowed to attend the event. 

“Why, after our explanation that we were not given the press release asking for an RSVP, weren’t we allowed to enter as students and stakeholders?" they asked in the editorial.