Federal marshals are guarding Education Secretary Betsy DeVos after protesters blocked her from entering a Washington D.C. middle school, marking an unusual move for the Education Department.
Normally, the Education Department has its secretary under the protection of civil servants, not the U.S. Marshal's Service, which typically protects federal judges and witnesses, transports prisoners, and catches fugitives, reports The Washington Post.
Marshals Service Spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue said the last cabinet member to come under marshals' protection was a director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has not been a Cabinet-level position since 2009.
Donahue, citing security reasons, said she could not say how many marshals are guarding DeVos, how long they will be protecting her, or how long she'll have the arrangements. It also was not clear if the Education Department is reimbursing the marshals for the cost to protect the new secretary.
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan told The Post that he entrusted the life of himself and his family to his security team for seven years, but protesters are "part of the job."
"You embrace that," he said. "You don’t run away. You have to deal with people. You have to work outside your comfort zone.”
Further, Duncan said he never had any doubt about his security team of civil servants, consisting of several former Secret Service agents, and he never saw the need to seek further protections.
“That’s a waste of taxpayer money,” Duncan said about DeVos' marshal protection.
Protesters at the D.C. Middle School Academy were mostly peaceful, but some tried to block a government car while others tried to stop DeVos from entering the building.
DeVos has been a target of controversy because of her stance on private school vouchers and other public school alternatives, and her detractors fear she'll harm public schools by using taxpayer money for private and religious education.
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