U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrapped up visit to the city with a stop Wednesday at the all-boys Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, Queens.
It was her second tour of an local orthodox Jewish day school in two days.
Although it was her first swing through the city as the nation’s top education official, DeVos did not visit any part of the city's public school system, which has an enrollment of 1.1 million students, making it the nation's largest.
As she did during the first day of her tour, DeVos declined to speak to reporters. Aides said she wanted to highlight her support of government funding for religious schools.
In a closed door-speech Wednesday to the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, which finances Catholic charities, she defended such funding and the right of parents to choose their children’s schools.
"I know very well there are powerful interests that want to deprive families their God-given freedom,” she said.
The city's Education department said, "An investment in public education is an investment in the future of our city and country. Secretary DeVos is welcome to visit NYC public schools and see the phenomenal work we’re doing.”
It costs about $14,000 a year to attend Darchei Torah. About 65 percent of its 2,200 students receive some form of financial aid.
"We would hope that the school, both private institutions like this one and public schools continue to thrive and find ways to improve, hopefully with the federal government's help,” said Elie Schwab, a school parent and graduate.
Darchei Torah officials said they were grateful for the visit by DeVos, which came amid a city investigation of whether 39 ultra-Orthodox Jewish schools provide required secular instruction in areas like Math and History.
Darchei Torah does provide non-religious studies. DeVos visited literacy and vocational programs and a STEM lab.
"Education is the most important thing in the Jewish community... we strive every day to pay tuition, we also look to the government for various services," said Michael Fragin, another school parent.
An aide to DeVos said the education secretary was unable to stay and answer questions because she had to catch a flight out of the city. But the aide claimed the secretary plans to come back and visit other local schools in the future.