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Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on the separation of immigrant families by the Trump Administration

For Immediate Release:
June 15, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on the separation of immigrant families by the Trump Administration

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), on the separation of immigrant families by the Trump Administration:

"In recent days, I have been heartbroken by the news reports, videos, and images of families torn apart and caged by the Trump Administration in their callous enforcement of immigration laws. These camps harken back to World War II-era Japanese internment camps, one of the most shameful times in U.S. history and are no different than the ICE raids we saw last year in the District of Columbia. They have one intent: to instill fear into our communities and neighbors. Since he took office, the president has utilized fear to meet his political aims and satisfy his base without any thought to the broken families and traumatized children he leaves in his wake.

"This is immoral and, like many residents and local leaders across the country, I feel powerless. We are still a promised land to many around the world who seek to escape the unsafe or inhumane conditions of the place they were born.  We should meet those seeking refuge with open arms, not locked cells.

"I have always believed that the District of Columbia and the United States are stronger because of the diversity of thought, culture, and language that immigration adds to our history and heritage.  We should be doing more to ensure that immigrants feel welcome in our communities and our country.  That’s why I have fought for legislation that would lower language barriers to education in D.C., change our government issued I.D.s to ensure our residents cannot be targeted by ICE, provide legal aid to those whose status in our country is in question, and even allow some of our immigrant residents to vote in our local elections.

"I want to reiterate that my office remains open to anyone who has been, or knows someone who was, affected by the Trump Administration’s immigration policy. Please contact my office at 202.724.8105 so we can connect you to organizations who can assist."

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Grosso sends second letter to mayor laying out expectations for education leader search

On Thursday, June 14, Councilmember Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a second letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser asking her to provide a proposed timeline and plan for the selection of a permanent Deputy Mayor for Education and Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools for Council review, as required by law.

Over two months ago, the councilmember asked the mayor to provide a timeline for a robust public engagement process that would put leaders in place as the city navigates a tumultuous time for public education. The mayor never responded.

"The District of Columbia currently has a vacuum of executive leadership on public education, and you have done nothing to fix that," Grosso wrote.

Since the mayor has failed to lay out her plan, Councilmember Grosso laid out his expectations for the search going forward.

  • The mayor should go above and beyond the minimum legal requirements for the selection of the Chancellor by engaging in listening sessions with teachers, students, parents, and community members about the characteristics they want to see in our new education leaders.
  • Create an advisory committee of individuals that can work with the mayor to identify and announce the nominations. The Washington Teachers' Union should have the opportunity to put forward suggestions of teachers to participate in that committee for the chancellor.
  • Leaders should be committed to re-establishing public trust and closing the achievement gap.

The Committee on Education, under Grosso's leadership, intends to hold multiple hearings and, if appropriate, move the nominations through the legislative process during the Council review period to build the record and facilitate extensive public input. 

Unfortunately, the councilmember believes that D.C. Public Schools will begin a new school year without a permanent chancellor.

"While I believe it was a mistake to delay the chancellor selection processes, I hope that we can work together in making continued improvements to public education in D.C. for the benefit of our residents."

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In Recognition of National Children’s Awareness Month

In Recognition of National Children’s Awareness Month

By: Malik Worthy*

The month of June is recognized as Children’s Awareness Month. Sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Awareness Month is trying to get people to make a safe environment for youth and gives us an opportunity to reflect on the vulnerability of children exposed to violence.

There are many forms of violence from gun violence, physical violence such as sexual assault or battery, and more. Violence is a form of anger that leads to aggression. Violence has many causes, including frustration, exposure to violent media, violence in the home or neighborhood or a perception that another person’s actions toward you are aggressive, even when they’re not. While violence affects us broadly, it should be stated that men become crime victims more often than women, African Americans experience more crime than other racial groups, and unfortunately, adolescents are most likely to be victimized.

Violence impacts children differently than adults due to their developmental differences. In 2014, nearly two-fifths of children ages 17 and younger reported being a witness to violence in their lifetimes. An experience of violence can lead to lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm, whether the child is a direct victim or a witness. Children who experience violence are more than likely going to have many effects, such as behavior problems, depression, anxiety, and other problems throughout life.

Most children experience violence at school, home and in their communities. Annually, referrals to state child protective services involve 6.6 million children, and roughly 3.2 million of those children are subject to an investigated report. The District of Columbia is also facing an alarming trend. According to News Channel 4, more than half of the homicide victims in 2018 are teens or children. The Mayor, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. Council have all done significant work to try and prevent increased crime. In late April, Mayor Bowser kicked off her Summer Crime Initiative and also launched a new MPD Crime Mapping Application. MPD has undertaken initiatives to hunt down illegal guns and more. 

Additionally, the Council has stepped up to make our streets and communities safe for everyone but most importantly, for youth. Bills such as Councilmember Grosso’s Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act and the Office on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes Establishment Act seek to ensure that our youth are protected and have opportunities afforded to them to keep them out of harm’s way. Other bills before the Council to address violence or adverse actions, particularly against youth include the Youth Rehabilitation Amendment Act, Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act, Youth Mentoring Initiative Establishment Act and more. 

Many of the city’s leaders are working to stand up and stop the violence. They’ve introduced bills, held hearings, and had meetings in communities trying to resolve these problems.  Still, despite their best efforts, there is more work to be done as just in the past couple weeks, there has been an uptick in the number of homicides and incidences with guns across the city, primarily East of the River.

Addressing violence against youth is going to require ongoing efforts from all city leaders, residents, community organizations, faith-based institutions and many others but a broader conversation is also necessary.

Today’s youth are a product of the constant media churn, social media age and more. They are dealing with cyberbullying, an uptick in school shootings, worsening mental health, and the list goes on. As a rising senior at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in D.C., I see these struggles play out in real time. From gun violence, gang violence, and bullying.  Though my peers are facing so many traumatic situations, we are fighters. We are survivors and we are pushing for change. Members of the Parkland, Florida community took to Washington, DC, for the "March for Our Lives" protest, honoring their friends and loved ones who were fatally shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The march was youth organized and youth-led. Black Youth Project 100 is another organization of youth committed to advocacy and pushing for change.

Despite all the challenges my peers and I face, we will change the world and we will inspire a nation. I’m glad to be a young person in this important time of youth activism and I can’t wait to see everything we will achieve.


*This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso. Malik is a rising senior at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School-Capitol Hill, and participated in the Cesar Chavez Policy Fellowship.*
 

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Grosso expresses support for Ellington and fair resolution to residency claims

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso expresses support for Ellington and fair resolution to residency claims

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, regarding the Duke Ellington School of the Arts:

“The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is one of the premier public arts education high schools in the country, if not the world. The District of Columbia government and local philanthropic partners have put significant resources into the school, including most recently an extensive modernization of the building. This state of the art school is intended for, and ought to serve, residents of the District.

“Throughout my time as a Councilmember and as Chairperson of the Committee on Education, I have been an avid promoter of the arts, and of arts education in particular. My passion for the arts and the remarkable benefits they bring to our city extends to the storied Ellington. The entire District should be proud of this gem of a school. 

“Last month, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) issued findings of non-residency against a number of students at Ellington. It is unacceptable that a large number of non-resident students may be attending such a premier institution of learning at the expense of District taxpayers. However, any implicated family who legitimately has residency in the District should be able to provide proper documentation and resolve the issue. My office has spoken with families who fit this category but find their efforts to cure the issue stymied. While I fully support OSSE rigorously enforcing our residency requirements, there must also be an opportunity for families to resolve inaccuracies. I am calling today on the Mayor and Attorney General to figure out a way to quickly and fairly resolve these circumstances so that families can move on or avail themselves of the due process rights that they are owed.

“Unfortunately, the challenging situation facing the school and these families has been muddied by real and perceived bias from neighbors toward Ellington students. This has led to supporters of the school worrying that it is being unfairly targeted in an attempt to remove it. I want every Ellington student, family, staff member, and supporter to know that I do not support any effort to end the Ellington program, relocate it, or otherwise diminish its strength.

“I believe that we can come out of this scenario with a stronger Ellington, serving more D.C. residents and with a more robust set of applicants as we put more emphasis on arts education in DCPS and charter K-8 schools. Ellington’s future in D.C. is a bright one.”

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Grosso announces summer education town halls in each Ward

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, will hold education town halls in all eight Wards this summer.  Starting on June 25, parents, students, educators, and any interested community members are invited to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns about moving D.C. schools forward and ensuring that every student is in the best position to succeed.  Dates and locations are below. All town halls will be held from 6pm-7:30pm. 

RSVP encouraged, but not required.

Summer Town Halls Flyerimg.jpg

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Councilmembers David Grosso and Robert White introduce legislation to improve LGBTQ health data

For Immediate Release:
June 5, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmembers David Grosso and Robert White introduce legislation to improve LGBTQ health data

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large) and Robert White (D-At-Large) introduced a bill to improve the documentation by D.C. agencies of health outcomes and behavioral risk factors of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community, as the federal government prepares to limit its collection of this critical public health data.

“At a time when the federal government is retreating from its responsibility to protect everyone’s human rights, D.C. must do everything it can to ensure those rights,” said Councilmember David Grosso. “We have a responsibility to meet the unique health needs of our LGBTQ residents.  Requiring our agencies to collect this critical public health data will better inform our policymaking and improve the health outcomes of all District residents.”

“We celebrate Pride in June, but we must go beyond words and parades to affirm and support our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. We need to push back on these proposals by the Trump administration that would impact their health by pretending they don’t exist,” said Councilmember Robert White.

The LGBTQ Health Data Collection Amendment Act of 2018 would require the District Department of Health to collect demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity through its annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS).

The BRFSS is a cross-sectional telephone survey conducted by state health departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with technical and methodological assistance provided by the Center for Disease Control.

It would also require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to collect information on the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression of respondents to the school-based Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). YRBSS monitors six types of health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults.

“Having a better understanding of how our students identify and the impact their sexual orientation or gender identity has on their behavior and risk factors will enable schools to better serve our students’ non-academic health needs,” Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, said. “When those needs are met, we know they are better prepared to succeed academically.”

All levels of government rely on the data from these surveys when making policy choices to address public health issues. Recently, Trump administration officials with the Center for Disease Controls hinted that they would discontinue the collection of this data.

Additionally, the bill would require that the data collected be used in the annual report on the health of the District’s LGBTQ community, a collaborative effort of the Department of Health and the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

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LGBTQ Health Data Collection Amendment Act of 2018

LGBTQ Health Data Collection Amendment Act of 2018

Introduced: June 5, 2018

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Robert White, Vincent Gray, Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Kenyan McDuffie, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Jack Evans, Trayon White. 

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Department of Health Functions Clarification Act of 2001 to require the Department of Health to collect information on the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression of respondents to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System; and to amend the State Education Office Establishment Act of 2000 to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to collect information on the sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression of respondents to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Today, Councilmember Robert White and I are introducing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Health Data Amendment Act of 2018. We are joined by Councilmembers Vincent Gray, Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Kenyan McDuffie, Mary Cheh, and Brandon Todd as co-introducers.

This is a very simple bill—it requires the Department of Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to gather demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity as part of their public health surveys of adults and students, respectively, in D.C.
Some members will recall this issue came up with regards to DOH a few years ago, and I introduced similar legislation then.

The Department did commit to gather the data, but only every other year, and new developments at the federal level threaten the progress that has been made.

This is data that OSSE is, in contrast, already collecting, and I don’t anticipate it causing any problem for them.

Understanding how our students identify and how that relates to their behavior or risk factors enables us to better serve students’ non-academic health needs.

When those needs are met, we know they are better prepared to succeed academically.

At a time when the federal government is retreating from its responsibility to protect everyone’s human rights, we must ensure that D.C. is doing everything it can to ensure those rights.

Part of that is documenting the health disparities that affect our LGBTQ neighbors so that we can target interventions to end those disparities. 

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Grosso FY2019 Budget Victories

Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, celebrated investments in his budget priorities included in the fiscal year 2019 budget for the District of Columbia, which was given final approval by the D.C. Council on May 29, 2018.

“This budget comes before us during a tumultuous time in the public education sector, but I believe the funding we have approved move us forward in education reform and toward closing the achievement gap,” Grosso said. “It makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.”

The Council’s full budget largely preserves or increases investments approved by the Committee on Education in Grosso’s education priorities and makes investments in other areas of focus for the councilmember:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $3.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates, including an increase to the at-risk weight of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Invests in the mental and physical health of our students: Provides $3 million at the Department of Behavioral Health for school-based clinicians and $4.4 million at the Department of Health for school-based nurses.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Supports students with special education needs: Fully implements the Enhanced Special Education Services Act and includes $350,000 in new funding for teacher training in special education.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1.5 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides four full-time staffers and $300,000 to OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Provides over $20 million for after-school and summer programming for students—more than double the current level of grant-funding for community-based organizations and unthinkable under the former D.C. Trust.
  • Supports early childhood education: Includes a new tax credit for families to offset the high cost of raising a child in D.C. and increased the reimbursement rate for subsidized childcare.
  • Continued investment in early literacy interventions: $1.6 million in continuing investments in the successful early literacy intervention program that gets students at or above reading level by third grade. 
  • Invests in Fair Elections: Fully funds Grosso's legislation that establishes a strong public financing system for campaigns in D.C., weakening the influence of large donors and corporations in our elections.
  • Fights homelessness and housing insecurity, especially for vulnerable populations: $15.6 million to combat homelessness including $1.6 million to fully fund the Interagency Council on Homelessness Youth Plan in 2019, with $300,000 from the Committee on Education to provide wraparound services at a new 24-hour drop-in center and additional youth beds.

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Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018

On May 1, 2018, the D.C. Council unanimously voted to approve, on final reading, Councilmember Grosso's Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018 which aims to reduce the use of exclusionary discipline in both traditional public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.

You can read the final version of the bill as passed by the Council here.

The law limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child’s right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

You can read the Committee Report on the legislation which gives insight into the reasoning for the bill, however, a number of changes were made after the bill was passed out of Committee. The major changes include:

  • Phasing limits on out-of-school suspensions for K-5 in SY19-20, along with 6-8;
  • Clarifying what rises to the level of “bodily injury” and “emotional distress”, and that schools/LEAs have the ability to provide further specificity in their own policies;
  • Raising the limit on out-of-school suspension days for grades 6-8 to 10 consecutive days;
  • Removing the language that would trigger a manifestation determination review after 5 days rather than 10; and
  • Changing the definition of in-school suspension to exclude supportive services like restorative conference or counseling, but requiring schools to still report the use of those interventions if an in-school suspension would have been warranted, to deter misclassification of interventions.

Councilmember Grosso included funding for much of the bill in the FY2019 budget, including over $2 million directly to schools through the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula. The budget also included additional funding for OSSE to provide support to schools:

  • $450,000 additional for restorative justice practices;
  • $400,000 for other training and supports;
  • $1.4 million for community schools grants;
  • $300,000 to collect further data and conduct a long-term evaluation of the law and any unintended consequences.

An additional $3 million was added to the budget the Department of Behavioral Health for new behavioral health clinicians in schools. These appropriations fulfilled the “subject to appropriations” clause for much of the bill, but not for the limits on the use of out-of-school suspension set to take effect in SY19-20 andSY20-21. For those to take effect, the Mayor and Council will need to identify and approve approximately $6M in additional dollars in the FY2020 budget cycle.

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DCPS responses to Grosso's inquiries on graduation accountability

Today, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, received a response from DCPS to a letter he sent to D.C. Public Schools Interim Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander with several questions in advance of the upcoming June 13, 2018 public oversight roundtable on graduation accountability. The purpose of the roundtable is to get an update from OSSE, DCPS, and PCSB on the implementation of Alvarez and Marsal’s recommendations on improving graduation accountability.  The response is below, along with response follow up questions from DCPS on questions asked at the May 10, 2018 roundtable.

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Addressing our education challenges requires urgent action

For Immediate Release:
May 23, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Addressing our education challenges requires urgent action

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on D.C. Public Schools and the Mayor’s repeated failure to meet deadlines and respond to the Committee on Education’s inquiries:

“It has been a tumultuous year for education in the District of Columbia. We have made some progress, but it has truly been in spite of the leadership of the Mayor and D.C. Public Schools who continue to drag their feet and throw up walls to the Committee and the Council’s oversight role.

“Last Tuesday I sent a letter to DCPS asking them to lay out the steps they have taken to address the graduation issues that have recently arisen and help students get back on track to graduate. I also requested they provide data to the Committee on Education that will better inform our policymaking so that the Council can be an effective partner in setting our students up for academic success. Another day, another deadline missed. 

“Six weeks ago, I sent a letter to the Mayor expressing my concern that we cannot begin to effectively tackle these issues without stable leadership in the form of a permanent Deputy Mayor for Education and DCPS Chancellor. I asked her to lay out a timeline for the search process and public engagement plan so that we can guarantee that parents, teachers, students, and administrators have buy-in of her eventual nominees and avoid the criticisms lobbed at the opaque process which resulted in the selection of Antwan Wilson. To date, I have not received a response. The Mayor has instead decided to wait until after the June primary, in which she is a candidate, to even begin the search. Next school year will almost certainly begin without a permanent chancellor in place unless we significantly curtail public input, which I have no intention of doing.

“Back in February, after receiving compelling evidence that teachers throughout the city, across grade levels, and in both sectors of public education feel pressure to pass students, it became apparent that issues with graduation and grade promotion may extend beyond high schools.  I asked the Mayor to expand and deepen the graduation investigation completed through Alvarez and Marsal to the charter sector and into the lower grades so that we can fully understand the problems throughout our system.

"It has been three months and the Mayor has not responded, despite repeated assurances from her team that a response was coming.

“These continuing failures to provide answers to simple questions betray a troubling lack of urgency on the part of DCPS and the Executive in addressing the education challenges facing our city. 

“Councilmember Robert White and I will introduce emergency legislation to ensure that students who meet their academic requirements and would otherwise be on track to graduate or be promoted to the next grade but for their absences in the first three terms of this school year are able to advance to the next step in their academic career. This will represent only a minor fix—there are currently over 1,000 DCPS seniors not on track to graduate this year due to poor academic achievement. I can think of few issues that are more urgent, but the Executive Branch seems to accept the status quo.”
 

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Grosso, Evans collaborate to establish dedicated funding for the arts, humanities, and creative economy in the District of Columbia

For Immediate Release:
May 15, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso, Evans collaborate to establish dedicated funding for the arts, humanities, and creative economy in the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C. – In a major victory for the artistic and creative sectors of the District of Columbia, Councilmembers David Grosso (I-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) have secured a dedicated funding stream for the arts, humanities, and creative economy in D.C.’s fiscal year 2019 budget, which the Council preliminarily approved on its first vote today.

“The arts, humanities, and creative economy have been major drivers of cultural and economic growth in the District of Columbia,” Grosso said. “The dedicated funding included in the budget will provide strong, stable investments that will continue to grow our thriving artistic and creative sectors for the foreseeable future. I truly appreciate Councilmember Evans’ partnership on this effort. Without it, and his persistent commitment to the arts, humanities, and creative economy, this would not have been possible.”

The budget dedicates 0.3 percent of the existing general sales tax to fund $30 million for arts, humanities, and creative economy grants annually.

“I am thrilled that dedicated funding for the arts and humanities in the District is now a reality,” said Councilmember Evans. “I have been a champion for expanding and funding arts programs since I joined the Council in the early 1990s and this yearly revenue will make a difference to ensure more grants are funded. Councilmember Grosso has been a great advocate for the arts and I’m grateful for his partnership in securing these funds.”

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Grosso sends questions on graduation accountability to DCPS Chancellor

Today, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a letter to D.C. Public Schools Interim Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander with several questions in advance of the upcoming June 13, 2018 public oversight roundtable on graduation accountability. The purpose of the roundtable is to get an update from OSSE, DCPS, and PCSB on the implementation of Alvarez and Marsal’s recommendations on improving graduation accountability. The councilmember has given Chancellor Alexander until no later than close of business next Monday, May 21, to respond.

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DCPS provides data following hearing on attendance

D.C. Public Schools has provided to Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, data he requested at the May 10 hearing on school attendance. At the hearing, Grosso requested from interim DCPS Chancellor the number of seniors who, but for their absences, would meet requirements for graduation.  DCPS provided that data on May 11th, stating that 80 seniors, or 2.2 percent of the class of 2018 cohort, were not on track to graduate based solely on absences.

You can read the updated DCPS Graduation Report here.

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Grosso dismayed by depth of residency fraud at Duke Ellington

For Immediate Release:
May 11, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso dismayed by depth of residency fraud at Duke Ellington

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on today’s release of a report on residency fraud at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education:

“Today’s report not only confirms the stunning depth of residency fraud at Duke Ellington, but also that the previous two chancellors had repeatedly lied to the Committee and the Council about how profound this problem is. I continue to grow frustrated with the lack of transparency from D.C. Public Schools and the Executive and this is the latest blow to their credibility. That is why I pushed to have OSSE assume responsibility of DCPS residency investigations last year and made investments through the annual budget process to provide resources to fulfill those responsibilities.

“Through their diligent work, the agency has revealed that up to 40 percent of students at Duke Ellington, representing over $2 million in D.C.-taxpayer funded education a year, are not District residents and had no plan to reimburse the District for tuition. Under no circumstances is this acceptable.

“I appreciate the work of OSSE and Superintendent Hanseul Kang on this issue. Over the years she has acknowledged that investigating residency fraud was an area that OSSE needed to improve. Today’s report, along with the additional 111 cases of potential residency fraud from throughout the District that OSSE has referred to the Attorney General this school year, show that the agency is ensuring that D.C. schools are serving D.C. students.

“The District of Columbia is full of brilliant young artists and musicians who deserve the ability to attend Duke Ellington. One of the premiere public arts education programs in the country, the school should serve D.C. families first and foremost. Yet the breadth of these allegations shows that the school and DCPS were, at the least, extremely lax in oversight.

 “I will be monitoring DCPS’ and Duke Ellington’s compliance with the corrective action plan laid out by OSSE to improve both school-level and central office compliance with our residency requirements. Additionally, I will continue to support OSSE’s role of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools by making the necessary investments, including the four additional full-time equivalents and $300,000 for contract support approved unanimously by the Education Committee last week for FY2019.”

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Grosso raises concerns over proposed paid family leave regulations in letter to DOES

Today, Councilmember David Grosso submitted comments to the Department of Employment Services (DOES) on the proposed regulations of the Universal Paid Leave Act.

When Councilmember Grosso introduced this legislation in 2015 he sought to establish a program that would relieve families in the District of Columbia of the difficult choice between a pay check and taking care of a new child or ailing loved one.

One of Grosso's primary motivations for championing this law was the economic security it provides to working families. It allows both fathers and mothers the necessary time to bond with their new child without having to worry about how they will provide for their new family during that time. As chairperson of the Committee on Education, he knows how important these critical early days are to a child’s development. He believe they are vital to ensuring youth are in the best position to succeed in school and career later in life.

However, in his letter, Grosso raises several concerns about the many barriers that exist in the proposed regulations that will keep UPLA benefits out of reach for many of the families who need them most.  Such obstacles threaten families’ economic well-being and deprive children of a quality experience in their early days.

Councilmember Grosso's full letter is below:

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Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

For Immediate Release:
May 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Councilmember Grosso requires increased transparency in education sector and invests in expanded educational opportunities

Washington, D.C. – Under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), the Committee on Education today unanimously passed its recommendations for the District of Columbia FY2019 budget. The Committee’s recommendations require greater transparency from the education sector when formulating its budget. It also makes new investments that put students in the best position to succeed by creating positive school climates, bolstering community schools, and expanding access to multilingual education in D.C.

“I share the public’s frustration with the lack of transparency in the development of school budgets,” Grosso said. “The policy changes included in this report will force DCPS and the mayor to explain their math when devising future budgets. With that information, not only can the Committee, the Council, and the public perform greater oversight, but the city can begin to grapple with the true cost of educating our students as it examines additional reforms to our public education system.” 

Policy Recommendations and Legislative Change Highlights:

  • Greater accountability in the formulation of D.C. Public Schools’ budget: Legislative language in the budget requires DCPS to explain the cost that central office attributes to supporting each student, requires the mayor to report how the base of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) is calculated each year before the budget is formulated, and ensures accuracy in enrollment projections for budgetary purposes.
  • Greater transparency in the expenditure of at-risk dollars: By October 1, 2018, D.C. Public Schools must report to the Committee on Education how it will add an accounting line item to central office and school budgets allowing for more detailed tracking of funds intended for students at-risk for academic failure.
  • Study transportation barriers that hinder school attendance: Requires the Deputy Mayor for Education to collaborate with the District Department of Transportation to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for chronically absent students.

“The budget the Committee has passed also creates a positive school environment that values a student’s presence and strives to meet the non-academic needs of our most vulnerable students,” said Grosso. “By addressing these issues, we can begin to close the achievement gap and get students on track to graduate ready for college, career, and life."

Investment Highlights:

  • Prioritizes students’ right to learn by reducing the use of exclusionary discipline: $4.4 million to fund the Student Fair Access to School Act to protect students’ right to an education, close the achievement gap, and foster positive school climates. This includes:
    • An increase of $450,000 for a total investment of nearly $1 million for Restorative Justice programs, which provide an alternative to outdated discipline methods.
    • An increase in the Universal Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) for students at-risk of academic failure.
    • Establishing the School Safety and Positive Climate Fund to support schools in implementing strategies to reduce suspensions and expulsions and facilitate training and technical assistance in positive behavioral interventions.
  • Improves educational outcomes by meeting students’ non-academic needs: An increase of $1.4 million for a total investment of nearly $3 million to expand community schools, which set students up for academic success by addressing their academic, health, and social needs through community partnerships.
  • Increases access to multilingual education in the District: $367,000 to establish the Office of Multilingual Education in OSSE, with dedicated personnel whose mission is to increase cross-sector access to high-quality multilingual education across the city.
  • Creates a world-class central library: $1 million for opening day collections at the newly-modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, set to re-open in 2020.
  • Preserves our local history for future generations: $500,000 for the D.C. Oral History project, a collaboration of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., Humanities DC, and the D.C. Public Library, over the next four years.
  • Provides resources to combat residency fraud: Provides one additional full-time equivalent to the proposed three FTEs and $300,000 for OSSE to aid its mission of investigating and reporting residency fraud in D.C. schools.
  • Expands equitable, high-quality out-of-school learning opportunities: Increased investment of $652,000 for OST grants with redirection of defunct tax donation line and transfers from the Committees on Labor & Workforce Development and Business & Economic Development. Total Education investment: $13.6 million.
  • Supports services and housing for youth experiencing homelessness: The Education Committee transferred $300,000 to the Human Services Committee for wrap-around services at the 24-hour drop-in center and for shelter and housing for homeless youth.

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Council passes Grosso’s bill to transform discipline in D.C. schools

For Immediate Release:
May 1, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Council unanimously passes Grosso’s bill to transform discipline in D.C. schools

Washington, D.C. – In a unanimous vote, the Council of the District of Columbia today passed legislation authored by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) that limits the use of exclusionary discipline in D.C. traditional public and public charter schools.

“The Student Fair Access to School Act is transformational—it breaks the traditional model of school discipline which pushes students out of school and, too often, into the courts,” said Grosso of the legislation, one of the most expansive and comprehensive school discipline reform laws in the country. “This shifting mindset will result in students being better prepared to succeed academically and safer school environments for all.”

The Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018 limits out-of-school suspension of students in kindergarten through eighth grade to serious safety incidents and bans its utilization in high school for minor offenses. If exclusion becomes necessary, the bill protects a child’s right to an education while they are off premises and requires a plan for the student to successfully return to the classroom.

“Suspensions and expulsions are contributing to the achievement gap in our schools,” Grosso said. “For our students of color, our young girls, and our students who need additional educational supports, this is a civil rights bill.”

Last year, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released data showing that Black students were eight times more likely to be suspended than White students, an increase over the previous year’s rate. Additionally, students with disabilities and at-risk students were two times and one-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended than their peers, respectively. The U.S. Department of Education recently released national data that mirrored these findings.

Grosso will now turn to providing funding for positive behavioral supports in schools which produce safer school climates and better learning conditions for all students.

“In addition to this legislation, I look forward to making the necessary investments in school-based mental and behavioral health supports and alternative discipline programs when the Committee on Education marks up the fiscal year 2019 budget later this week,” Grosso said.

 “The Student Fair Access to School Act is the result of over a year of work, which included input from students, parents, teachers, school leaders, student and family advocates, researchers, mental health practitioners, government agency heads, and my colleagues. I appreciate that time and input immensely and urge the mayor to join us in this effort on behalf of students by signing Fair Access into law.”

The passage of the legislation is the latest success in Councilmember Grosso’s work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline since joining the Council in 2013. That year, Grosso secured language requiring data collection and reporting from each local education agency on their utilization of exclusionary discipline. The first law he passed when he became chairperson of the Committee on Education in 2015 banned the suspension or expulsion of pre-kindergarten students. He also included language in the School Attendance Clarification Amendment Act that ended the practice of suspending and expelling minors who were late to school or had an unexcused absence and has increased annual investments in alternative discipline programs, such as restorative justice, and community schools.


 

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on yesterday's rally outside the Wilson Building

For Immediate Release:
April 27, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on yesterday's rally outside the Wilson Building

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the rally held outside the Wilson Building on April 26, 2018:

“I am extremely alarmed by the disgusting anti-Semitic rhetoric used to attack both the Jewish Community and a Council colleague yesterday, right on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building. This type of hate speech must be immediately denounced and cannot be given a safe space to be heard in our city.

"This rally was organized by Joshua Lopez, who was appointed by the mayor to serve on the District of Columbia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.When Mr. Lopez’s nomination came up for a vote this year, I joined the concerns raised by some of my colleagues about Mr. Lopez’s temperament and qualifications and ultimately voted against his appointment.  And now this. Mr. Lopez should personally apologize to Councilmember Elissa Silverman and resign his seat on the D.C. Housing Authority Board immediately.”

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