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Education secretary: ‘It’s hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students’

Education secretary: ‘It’s hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students’
© Greg Nash

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosMelania Trump to host screening of 'Wonder' for National Bullying Prevention Month O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate Charter schools’ ‘Uberization’ of teaching profession hurts kids too MORE on Thursday said critics who claim she has failed to uphold the civil rights of students are "hurtful."

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“It's hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students, the civil rights of students,” DeVos told a small group of media outlets, as reported by Politico.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she added. “I have to turn it back around and say why do I keep getting criticized for that? I mean, nothing that I’ve done would suggest otherwise.”

DeVos has faced heavy criticism for rolling back Obama-era Education Department guidelines.

In November it was reported that DeVos's agency was considering removing the word "systemic" from guidelines on how to probe civil rights violations, potentially making it less likely that the department would investigate longstanding institutional abuses.

Last month several civil rights groups sued DeVos and the Education Department over the decision to rescind sexual assault guidelines implemented by the Obama administration.

The complaint alleges that DeVos's new guidelines are built on "unfounded generalizations about women and girls, particularly their credibility regarding reported experiences of sexual harassment, including sexual violence."

DeVos said Thursday that she didn't think her new guidelines stopped or dissuaded victims of sexual assault from coming forward.

"I hope that nobody who has been involved in any kind of a sexual assault would feel in any way impeded from coming forward and telling their story. There's nothing about the guidance that would suggest or encourage that," she said.