DeVos spent time eating lunch with students and read the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” to a kindergarten class. She visited several classrooms, met with North Park teachers and staff, and toured the North Park campus. Then DeVos met privately with the families of special education teacher Karen Smith, who was killed on April 10, and fourth-grade student Nolan Brandy, who was wounded in the same incident. The family of student Jonathan Martinez, who lost his life that day, could not attend because they are still in Mexico following Jonathan’s burial in his native Durango.
DeVos’ visit to San Bernardino lasted more than an hour. DeVos saw the exemplary work being done to educate the school’s 530 students and was briefed on the various ways North Park and the San Bernardino City Unified School District are supporting children, families, and employees in the aftermath of the April 10 shooting.
Secretary DeVos’ visit came at the invitation of District Superintendent Dr. Dale Marsden, with whom she spoke in the immediate wake of the April 10 tragedy. The Department of Education remains in close coordination with the school and District to provide needed support and resources.
“My heart aches for the children and families impacted by this senseless tragedy, but my spirit soared to see the resiliency of the students and staff. It is clear this school community has rallied together to care for every child and for each other,” DeVos said following her visit. “I want to commend the entire North Park Elementary and San Bernardino Unified District team for the nurturing environment they’ve created and for continuing undeterred with the important mission of educating the rising generation.”
DeVos’ visit signifies her commitment to public education and her support for the North Park students and staff, Marsden said. And, it also gave the District an opportunity to show DeVos North Park’s exemplary academic programs, which include Accelerated Kindergarten for gifted students and special day classes for students with unique learning needs.
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos showed our community she truly cares about the safety and wellbeing of our students,” Marsden said. “We’re very proud to share with her North Park’s mission, which has always been to focus on the academic and social needs of all students, especially now more than ever.”
Following her visit to North Park, DeVos spent time personally speaking with the Smith and Brandy families. She was especially delighted to meet Nolan Brandy, who was accompanied by his parents.
“It was inspiring to hear about the wonderful lives Karen and Jonathan led and to witness the incredible strength Nolan has shown,” DeVos said. “While life at North Park will never be exactly the same, I have no doubt the students and staff will continue to exemplify the remarkable spirits of those who were lost.”