This article originally appeared on TIME.com.
(WASHINGTON) — Several dozen protesters gathered outside a public school where Betsy DeVos paid her first visit as education secretary in a bid to mend fences with educators after a bruising confirmation battle.
DeVos visited Jefferson Middle School in southwest DC early Friday. About 50 protesters gathered outside the school, holding signs and shouting “We fight back!”
After some protesters physically blocked DeVos from entering the public school, she issued a statement Friday afternoon saying: “I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”
DeVos has previously worked to promote charter schools and school voucher programs, which her critics say would hurt public schools. She was confirmed for the job by the Senate on Tuesday by the narrowest possible margins, after two Republicans opposed her.
Journalists were prevented from entering the school to cover the event.