A spokesperson for the education department did not respond to a request for comment on the comments, or whether DeVos plans to remain in office until January 20.
Department officials announced at the staff meeting with all hands that they have set up career officials to take over in an interim position those that will be left in the coming weeks due to an exodus of political officials.
The Trump administration plans to sue Phil Rosenfelt for the role of Acting Secretary of Education, according to a list obtained by POLITICO.
Rosenfelt is the deputy general counsel to the department and a long-term career associate. He played the same role during the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump administration in 2017 and served as Acting Secretary of Education from late January 2017, when Secretary John B. King Jr. left office until early February of that year, when DeVos was sworn in.
Rosenfelt was at the center of a controversy in 2019 over the Trump administration’s efforts to replace the acting inspector general in the Education Department.
Trump appointed Rosenfelt to replace Sandra Bruce, the number 2 officer in the inspector general’s office, who had served as acting inspector general. But the White House reversed the decision a few days later amid backlash from the Democrats, who began investigating the matter.
Top Democrats accused the Trump administration of trying to influence Bruce’s investigation into DeVos’ decision to reinstate a controversial accreditor of for-profit colleges. Education ministry officials deny those allegations.
DeVos told Education Department staff on Tuesday that her goal was “to do what is right for students in all we have achieved,” adding that “four years later it is still my focus and it is still my hope for you all.” She praised her revision of Title IX rules on sexual assault and misconduct in schools and colleges as one of her most significant achievements.
The comments of the secretary come after nearly four years of frequent sparring with the career employees of her department. She became involved in the agency’s union about reorganisations and workplace policies, such as teleworking rules, and blamed the agency bureaucrats for making it difficult to get things done.
“This building has caused more problems than it has solved,” DeVos of the Education Department said during an interview with Reason magazine this fall.
Politicians in the Education Department also tried to investigate and punish career employees who they suspected had leaked information to the press. Throughout the administration, Trump government officials often mocked the “ Deep State ”, accusing career workers of constantly trying to undermine the president’s agenda.
DeVos’ use of the word “ resistance, ” when reading what were apparently prepared remarks, mimics liberal opposition to President Donald Trump.