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Councilmember Grosso urges Congresswoman Norton to oppose backdoor RFK deal

Citing the racist name and lack of transparency and community engagement, Councilmember Grosso today sent a letter to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton urging her to oppose efforts by Mayor Bowser, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder, Republicans in the House of Representatives, and the Trump Administration to slip a provision into the must-pass end of year federal spending package that would pave the way for a return of the football team to RFK, as first reported by the Washington Post.

“The current effort is the latest ploy by the team and congressional Republicans to avoid public scrutiny,” wrote Grosso. “This process lacks transparency and there has been no engagement with District of Columbia residents or tribal leaders to afford them an opportunity to voice their concerns. The prospect that the District of Columbia would once again welcome a team whose name promotes prejudice and reinforces harmful ethnic stereotyping runs counter to the ideals of equality, diversity and inclusion for all that we have long embodied.”

In his time on the Council, Grosso has repeatedly called for the team to change their name–a racial slur against American Indians–most recently joining indigenous peoples and activists to deliver petitions to the football team. Last year, Grosso joined bipartisan lawmakers from Maryland and Virginia to introduce an interstate compact to prohibit all three jurisdiction from offering public incentives or financing for the construction or maintenance of facilities for the football team.

“As a vote on the appropriations bill could be imminent, there is an urgent need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that this backdoor attempt fails. I stand with the National Congress of American Indians, Advancement Project, NAACP, National Urban League, Race Forward, and other organizations working actively to oppose this effort and I urge you to do all you can to thwart this closed door process,” Grosso concluded.

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on D.C. School Report Card release

For Immediate Release:
December 7, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on D.C. School Report Card release

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the release of the D.C. School Report Card and School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE):

“The DC School Report Card is an important step towards greater transparency from our education system. It provides parents with detailed data on every public school in the District of Columbia, both our public charter schools and our traditional schools, to help them make informed decisions about their child’s education. Additionally, educators and policymakers now have a common metric by which to measure our schools and demonstrating where we need to focus our efforts to ensure that every student in the District of Columbia is in the best position to succeed.

“The STAR ratings are just one way to assess our schools at-a-glance. Behind those ratings is detailed data on academic growth, achievement, environment, and other important information–such as course and extra-curricular offerings–that provide a more complete picture to education stakeholders. I’m proud to note that there is a “4-star” school in every ward of our city, but we can not rest until every student has access to a top-quality educational experience no matter where in the city they reside. I truly believe that we are on that path, but much work remains. School communities on the lowest end of the scale will now be able to access federal education funding and be given the latitude to address their areas of improvement in a manner most appropriate for them. As chairperson of the Committee on Education, I will continue to push for greater local investments to help them succeed.

“I applaud OSSE and Superintendent Kang for their diligent work to create this report card, including the outstanding community and school outreach and engagement effort they undertook to create this important tool. This is the culmination of three years of hard work to implement the District of Columbia’s compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and I am very proud of our state education agency’s work on this.”

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Grosso votes against sports betting in D.C.

For Immediate Release:
December 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso votes against sports betting in D.C.

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 considered by the Council of the District of Columbia at its legislative meeting today:

“Today I cast a vote against a bill to legalize sports betting in the District of Columbia. This rush to make D.C. the first jurisdiction in the region to legalize sports betting gives me great pause as we do not fully understand the impact it will have on our communities. I’m concerned that not only will the revenue generated by this proposal come from the pockets of those who are most vulnerable in our city, but that it is not a reliable long-term funding source for the vital educational and public safety priorities for which the revenue has been dedicated.”

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the nomination of Lewis Ferebee to be the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools

For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the nomination of Lewis Ferebee to be the Chancellor of D.C. Public Schools

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on Mayor Bowser’s nomination of Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis D. Ferebee to be D.C. Public Schools Chancellor:

“Over the past few months, I have had the great pleasure of working closely with interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander as she has steered D.C. Public Schools through a period of intense public scrutiny. After the resignation of the last chancellor, and as she has done throughout her entire career with DCPS, she answered the call to service for our students. Dr. Alexander has a storied career at DCPS, first as an elementary teacher, then principal, instructional superintendent, chief of elementary schools, and now interim chancellor. This dedication to our schools deserves our highest appreciation I want to express my profound gratitude for her dedication and service.

“In Dr. Ferebee, the mayor has chosen to nominate an individual from outside of the District of Columbia. The vetting of such a candidate should not be taken lightly or hastily. Due to the late nature of this nomination in the legislative process, the Committee on Education will not schedule public engagement sessions this month and has no plans to move it through the Council before the end of the legislative session. I encourage Dr. Ferebee to seize this time as an opportunity to meet with DCPS students, family, teachers, and staff in preparation for his confirmation process.

“When the Council returns in January, I intend to hold two public engagement sessions in the community–one in Ward 7 and one in Ward 1–before the confirmation hearing at the Wilson Building. As always, I encourage and welcome public feedback, comments, questions, and concerns about the nomination as we prepare for a hearing on the nominee.”

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Latest version of education research legislation further insulates research from politics

For Immediate Release:
December 3, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Latest version of education research legislation further insulates research from politics

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the Committee of the Whole’s Committee Print of B22-776, “District of Columbia Education Research Practice Partnership Establishment and Audit Act of 2018” (formerly known as the “District of Columbia Education Research Advisory Board and Collaborative Establishment Amendment Act of 2018”):

“Since this bill was introduced in June, my staff and I have worked collaboratively with Chairman Mendelson’s office to develop the strongest bill possible to establish an independent education research practice partnership in the District of Columbia.

“From the outset, I have been intent on creating an entity whose primary focus is on improving practice and giving all education stakeholders the best possible data to inform their decision making process. Meeting that goal will aid our efforts to close the persistent achievement gap and put every student in the best position to succeed.

“Though the Committee Print released by the Committee of the Whole differs from the Education Committee’s, I am glad to see this version further insulates the research practice partnership from politics by removing it completely from government. This is a change I have sought since the Council first began consideration of the bill and I look forward to wholeheartedly supporting it at tomorrow’s Committee of the Whole and Legislative Meetings tomorrow.”

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Grosso alarmed by latest move threatening students’ behavioral health

For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso alarmed by latest move threatening students’ behavioral health

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education and member of the Committee on Health, today sent a letter to the co-chairs of the School-Based Mental Health Coordinating Council, raising serious concerns about the Department of Behavioral Health’s allocation of funding for, and ultimately the provision of, student behavioral health services.

“Let me be clear, as a city we will not close the achievement gap if we do not know, understand, and meaningfully invest in the behavioral well-being of our students,” Grosso wrote.

Several community-based organizations have contacted Grosso with concerns about the DBH allocation of funds in a manner that runs contrary to the Task Force’s recommendations--a move that was made unilaterally by DBH. Without the funding structure recommended, many CBOs would withdraw and our highest need schools would forgo additional delivery of critical services.

“This is wholly unacceptable. Not only does it deviate from what both the Task Force and the Coordinating Council previously committed to, but it undermines the viability of the program,” Grosso wrote. “The program is disintegrating before it ever had a chance for success. It is absolutely imperative that we course correct.”

The School-Based Mental Health program is on its second attempt at expansion, following a lackluster roll out in 2017 that necessitated Council intervention, led by Grosso and Ward 7 Councilmember and Health Committee Chairperson Vince Gray, to create a task force comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders and the Department of Behavioral Health to offer recommendations.

But in his letter to DBH, Grosso called into question the DBH’s and the Executive branch’s motivations and good faith in its participation on the task force and its provision of services that put our students in the best position to succeed academically.

“Not only do I feel the Executive has been grossly dishonest about their intentions as it relates to this program, but I’ve come to believe that the Department is so intent on doing more with less that they are willing to compromise the type and quality of services that we afford our students,” he wrote.

Grosso has requested answers from DBH and the Coordinating Council on the timeline of student service delivery, the decision-making process of the funding reallocation, and contingency plans if the current course of action fails. Those responses are due by end of day December 5th.

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Committee on Education unanimously approves Grosso’s legislation to address school sexual assault

For Immediate Release:
November 27, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Committee on Education unanimously approves Grosso’s legislation to address school sexual assault

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Education today unanimously approved Councilmember David Grosso’s legislation to address and prevent sexual assault and abuse in D.C. schools.

“As the Trump administration is rolling back protections for student victims of sexual assault, and amid a national conversation about sexual misconduct, the time for the Council to create safer school environments for our students is now,” Grosso said. “While the nation has understandably been focused on the tragic and all too frequent occurrence of school shootings, the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse in our schools has not received the attention that it deserves.”

Between 2011 and 2015, the Associated Press found approximately 17,000 cases of sexual assault were filed in K-12 schools across the country.

“In just the past year, several incidences of sexual assault—whether perpetrated by students or by adults against students—have occurred here in the District of Columbia, in both traditional public and public charter schools. It was upsetting enough to learn of these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate. Cases were mishandled. Victims, rather than the perpetrators, were punished. Claims were mocked,” Grosso said. “Through performance oversight hearings held this year, I grew more concerned that school leaders had not addressed this violence with appropriate urgency.”

The School Safety Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 requires all schools to have policies in place to prevent and properly respond to sexual abuse by adults against children and sexual harassment and assault among students, including dating violence. The bill also increases the requirements of what efforts D.C. Public Schools and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any potential employees who will have direct contact with students.

Further, schools will need to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, child abuse, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Last year in D.C., 7% of heterosexual high-school aged youth and 15.4% of lesbian, gay or bisexual high-school aged youth had been physically forced to have sex when they did not want to, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The same survey found that 11.6% of heterosexual youth and 24.2% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth had been victims of dating violence.

The School Safety Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 will be considered by the full Council at the December 4th legislative meeting.

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Councilmembers Grosso and Nadeau seek clarity on services for transgender youth in CFSA's care

On Oct. 4, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, chairperson of the Committee on Human Services, sent a letter to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) seeking clarification of its policies regarding the provision of medical services to transgender youth in the agency’s care.

“The governor of California recently signed legislation in that state…setting the appropriate care for youth in foster care to receive gender-affirming health care, including mental health care. Media outlets praised the state as being the first to ensure these rights for transgender youth,” the two councilmembers wrote. “However, it is our belief that this should have already been policy in the District of Columbia based on the provisions of our Human Rights Act and its interpretation, particularly with regards to the Mayor’s Order from February 27, 2014 prohibiting discrimination in health insurance based on gender identity or expression.”

CFSA Director Brenda Donald responded to Grosso and Nadeau on Oct. 19, reaffirming its commitment to provide youth in its care with all appropriate medical and mental health services, including related to maters of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“In the District of Columbia, youth in the care of CFSA have a right to be provided with timely, adequate, and appropriate medical and mental health services from health care professionals, which includes medical care, behavioral health care, and counseling,” Donald wrote.

“CFSA’s practice is to support and ensure that transgender youth obtain and have access to gender-affirming healthcare, gender affirming mental healthcare, and any other support and services they might need. Should a youth express an interest in undergoing gender reassignment surgery with their social worker, health care professional, or foster parent, CFSA would treat such request as we would any medical request. The agency will refer the youth to the appropriate medical and mental health services, establish what is medically covered, and determine the best way forward to ensure that all medical needs are met. If a youth requests reassignment surgery, CFSA must ensure that the youth receives the appropriate mental health support. The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) will cover sex reassignment procedures for beneficiaries with an established diagnosis of gender dysphoria.”

Read the full letter to CFSA, and their response to Councilmembers Grosso and Nadeau, below.

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Grosso introduces legislation to protect educational rights of special needs students in criminal proceedings

For Immediate Release:
October 16, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces legislation to protect educational rights of special needs students in criminal proceedings

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, introduced legislation to protect the educational rights of youth with special needs involved in criminal proceedings in the District of Columbia.

“The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensures that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive free appropriate public education and makes them eligible for special education and related services up until the age of 22,” said Grosso. “While the Superior Court designates a panel of special education attorneys for these youth in Family Court, adult students that appear in criminal proceedings do not receive the same treatment.”

The Special Education Rights for Youth Defendants Amendment Act of 2018 establishes a panel of special education attorneys at the Superior Court to represent students with identified special education needs who are involved in the criminal justice system.

According to the United States Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, students with disabilities represent a large portion of students in correctional facilities. In D.C., over 80% of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (“DYRS”) committed youth have special education needs.

“This legislation will go a long way in helping ensure older students with special needs are adequately represented, afforded a real opportunity to earn a high school diploma, and placed on a path to a more productive and successful life,” said Grosso.

This bill is the latest step Councilmember Grosso has taken to implement the recommendations of the Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Working Group he convened in 2018.  According to a report issued by the group in July, students in the care of the D.C. government experience many disruptions to education which make it difficult for them to achieve their educational goals.

“The government of the District of Columbia has a responsibility to provide high-quality education to the youth who are in its care,” Grosso said. “The recommendations put forward by the working group push D.C. to better fulfill that responsibility by improving coordination between agencies and reducing barriers to educational achievement for these often-overlooked youth.”

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Grosso proposes bill to assess public health impacts of new development

For Immediate Release:
October 16, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso proposes bill to assess public health impacts of new development

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) today proposed legislation that would promote healthier individuals and communities by requiring new development projects to receive an analysis of its health impacts before proceeding.

“New housing and transportation can have profound impacts on the health and well-being of individuals and communities, yet these impacts are often not sufficiently evaluated,” said Grosso. “As the District of Columbia continues to grow, with new development projects emerging every day, it is imperative that we assess how these projects positively or negatively affect the health of our residents.”

The Health Impact Assessment Program Establishment Act of 2018 creates a health impact assessment program within the Department of Health to evaluate the potential health effects of proposed projects on individuals and communities and to support healthy communities, healthy community design, and development that promotes physical and mental health by encouraging healthy behaviors, quality of life, social connectedness, safety, and equity.

Through this legislation DOH will be able to examine all projects that require an environmental impact statement–such as those relating to new construction, roadway changes, and others–to determine their impact on physical activity, mental health, food and nutritional choice, noise levels, accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and a host of other factors.

“I am committed to improving the health and wellness of every D.C. resident,” Grosso said. “Implementing this comprehensive approach here in D.C. would help to promote sustainable development, improve and reduce health inequities, encourage cross-sectoral collaboration, and inspire a greater appreciation for public health in the policymaking process.”

Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Vince Gray, and Brandon Todd joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Judiciary Committee advances legislation to help sexual abuse survivors heal

For Immediate Release:
October 4, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Judiciary Committee advances legislation to help sexual abuse survivors heal

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), member of the Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety, on the committee’s approval of the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Amendment Act of 2018 which incorporates pieces of the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act, a measure Grosso introduced in 2015 and 2017:

“For over a decade, the Council has considered some form of legislation meant to help childhood survivors of sexual abuse heal from the trauma of their experience. Today, we finally advanced legislation that will allow those survivors to seek justice and recompense and further hold the individuals who perpetrate these atrocities accountable.

“I originally introduced the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act because I believe there are few actions more depraved than sexual violence against children. The experience of sexual violence as a child is one that endures for ages.  Most survivors do not come forward until well into adulthood, suffering for years with depression, feelings of guilt and sometimes difficulty forming intimate relationships. 

“I applaud the expansion in the legislation we have approved today which allows an individual to file a civil suit to recover damages for any sexual abuse – not just acts of sexual abuse that occurred while the victim was a minor.

“The recent spate of high-profile cases involving allegations of and convictions for sexual abuse underscore the pervasiveness of sexual assault in America. The prevalence of these incidences, across every sector, from the Catholic Church to as far reaching as the Office of the President of the United States, defies the word "problem." This is an epidemic, and what we've come to realize is that American culture has and continues to reinforce the normalization of sexual violence. Far too often, survivors of sexual violence are let down by the justice system.

“While this bill is not a panacea, it will go a long way to encourage and empower victims to come forward and know that a fair and just system is in place to help them right wrongs and begin to heal.

“As policymakers, we have to ensure that every available option is afforded to those who have been harmed and this legislation will allow the many courageous survivors across the city to seek justice under the law. I want to thank Chairperson Charles Allen and his staff for the time and effort that has been dedicated to advancing this measure to mark-up. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes before the full Council.”

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Grosso expresses concerns over Providence Hospital closure

On September 26, 2018, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to the Department of Health about his concerns regarding the planned closure of Providence Hospital’s acute care services and to better understand DOH’s role during the transition.

“Ascension’s decision to close acute-care services at Providence Hospital is devastating as three-quarters of patients accessing care at Providence are D.C. residents primarily coming from Wards 5, 7, and 8,” wrote Grosso. “This loss of much needed medical care on the east side of the city greatly limits access and may exacerbate already troubling health outcomes for our residents in these communities.”

On October 3, the Department of Health respond with a letter outlining their role. Both can be found below.

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Grosso schedules hearing on bills to prevent and respond to sexual abuse, assault in schools

For Immediate Release:
September 28, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso schedules hearing on bills to prevent and respond to sexual abuse, assault in schools

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, announcing a hearing on his legislation to address sexual assault and abuse in schools:

“How schools address the very real problems of sexual abuse and assault have been at the forefront of my mind over the past year. I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were mishandling sexual assaults, in some cases punishing the victims of sexual assault.

“Through performance oversight hearings held this year, I grew more concerned that D.C. Public School senior leadership, the Office of Integrity, and some charter local education agencies were not taking these matters seriously. Then this week, the recordings from Roosevelt High School came to light. It has left parents, students, and the community uncertain about their own safety and how they will be treated if they are or were the victim of sexual assault.

“Our schools need to have more appropriate policies that support these victims and address the behaviors of the perpetrators. Last week, after working throughout the summer with education stakeholders, I introduced three pieces of legislation aimed at improving school safety at both traditional public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.

“Two of the bills, the School Safety Act of 2018 and the Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018, would require all schools to have policies in place to prevent and properly respond to both child sexual abuse between adults and minors and sexual harassment and assault among students, including dating violence. Further, schools will need to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

“I will hold a hearing on these bills on November 1, 2018 in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. I encourage all witnesses to sign up to testify to share their stories, or if they feel more comfortable, to submit written testimony to the Committee on Education by emailing testimony to astrange@dccouncil.us.”

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Grosso questions Bowser administration on implementation of changes to Kids Ride Free program

Today, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a letter to Director of the District Department of Transporation Jeff Marootian, interim Deputy Mayor for Education Ahnna Smith, and City Administrator Rashad Young after constituents reported that hundreds students have not yet received new Kids Ride Free (KRF) SmarTrip cards which provide free access to Metrorail, Metrobus, and D.C. Circulator.

“Recently, I learned that 775 students at D.C. International School need KRF cards, but have not yet received them, and this problem extends to other schools as well. This is unacceptable. The KRF program was created four years ago to ensure our school system is more equitable for students and families in the District of Columbia. Without access to public transportation, I am concerned that many students will not be able to go to school.”

UPDATE: City Administrator Rashad Young sent responded to Councilmember Grosso on September 25. The letter can be found below.

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Grosso proposes coordinating committee to focus on education of students in care of D.C. government

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso proposes coordinating committee to focus on education of students in care of D.C. government

Washington, D.C. – Building on his work to improve the educational outcomes of students in the care of the District of Columbia government, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, proposed the establishment of a coordinating committee to focus on the educational success of students who are detained, committed, incarcerated, and in foster care.

“Much of the work of this city has focused on closing the achievement gap between black and white students. However, the educational needs of a subgroup of students who are involved with the justice or foster care systems, have not received as much as attention they deserve,” said Grosso. “As a result of the working group that I convened to examine these issues, I am excited to introduce legislation that will permanently bring stakeholders together to keep a constant focus on a group of students that deserve our government’s undivided attention.”

The Students in the Care of D.C. Coordinating Committee Act of 2018 establishes an interagency coordinating committee to identify challenges and resolve issues that students in detainment, commitment, incarceration, and foster care face as the D.C. government works to fulfill its responsibility to educate these students.

Students in the care of the D.C. government experience many disruptions to education which make it difficult for them to achieve their educational goals, according to a report issued in July by a working group of over 30 entities convened by Councilmember Grosso in 2018. The legislation introduced today is a direct result of the 40 policy recommendations included in that report.

Students who were experiencing challenges in their academic career prior to detention, commitment, incarceration, or placement in foster care are at increased risk of falling even further behind in their education. Many of these students are placed outside of the District of Columbia and are highly mobile. Consequently, they experience issues enrolling in school, obtaining transferrable credit, and receiving special education and related services. As a result, earning a high school diploma is far more difficult.

“The government of the District of Columbia has a responsibility to provide high-quality education to the youth who are in its care,” Grosso said. “The recommendations put forward by the working group push D.C. to better fulfill that responsibility by improving coordination between agencies and reducing barriers to educational achievement for these often-overlooked youth.”

Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne K. Nadeau, Brandon Todd, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers.

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Grosso introduces three bills to improve school safety

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces three bills to improve school safety

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced three bills to create safer school environments for all students in the District of Columbia.

“Our students learn best when they are in a safe and welcoming environment,” said Grosso. “Addressing the very real concerns of sexual abuse and threats of physical violence are vital to protecting our students’ well-being.”

Grosso introduced the School Safety Act of 2018 today at the Council’s first legislative meeting following its summer recess. The bill requires both traditional public and charter schools to develop policies to prevent and properly respond to child sexual abuse when it occurs. It also mandates training for staff, students, and parents on child sexual abuse, in-line with legislation passed in many other jurisdictions.

“Over the past year we have seen incidences of sexual abuse and assault in our schools,” said Grosso, chairperson of the Council’s Committee on Education. “It was upsetting enough to learn of these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate. My legislation seeks to fix that.”

Additionally, schools will need to take additional steps to ensure educators have not previously been fired or lost their teaching license in another jurisdiction for sexual misconduct, including cross-checking potential hires against the national database of teachers’ licenses.

Under another bill Grosso filed on Tuesday, the Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018, schools will be required to have policies in place to prevent and properly respond to sexual harassment and assault among students, including dating violence.

“I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were mishandling sexual assaults, in some cases punishing the victims of sexual assault,” Grosso said. “They need to have more appropriate policies on the books that support these victims and address the behaviors of the perpetrators.”

Further under the bill, schools will need to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Finally, Grosso filed legislation, the Safe2Tell Act, creating an anonymous tip line for reporting student plans to do harm to themselves or others based on successful programs in other states including Colorado and Pennsylvania.

“At a time when the federal Department of Education is promoting more guns in schools as a response to violence, I am excited to continue the conversation in D.C. about how to truly make our schools safer.”

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Bill to reduce political influence on superintendent introduced by Grosso

For Immediate Release:
September 18, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Bill to reduce political influence on superintendent introduced by Grosso

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, today introduced legislation that would make the District of Columbia’s state education agency more independent and increase public confidence in its work.

The State Education Agency Independence Amendment Act of 2018 establishes the Office of the State Superintendent for Education as an independent agency and extends the term of the Superintendent from four years to six years. Further, it removes the Mayor’s discretion to remove the Superintendent at will and grants OSSE exclusive hiring authority for its personnel.

“Over the past few months I have heard a desire from the community for a more objective superintendent of education, one that more closely aligns with state education agencies across the country,” Grosso said. “We can deepen the public’s and the Council’s trust in its work by removing and insulating OSSE from the day-to-day political considerations of the mayor.”

Grosso intends to hold a hearing on the legislation in the Committee on Education before the end of the year.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Brianne K. Nadeau, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers. 

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Safe2Tell Act of 2018

Safe2Tell Act of 2018

Introduced: September 18, 2018

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Trayon White.

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To establish a program in the Office of the Attorney General to allow anonymous reporting concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent, or criminal activities in a school or the threat of the activities in a school.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Throughout the past year, the national conversation about school safety has focused on school shooting incidents, particularly as a result of the willingness of survivors of the Parkland, Florida tragedy to speak out.

While those mass-casualty incidents are deeply disturbing, despite seeming to happen ever more often, they remain fairly rare when compared to other forms of violence that affect our students and schools.

Locally, we had the misfortune to witness another form of violence over the past year—teachers sexually abusing children and students sexually assaulting other students.

It was upsetting enough to learn of the these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate.

The School Safety Act seeks to fix that going forward, along with accompanying legislation I am introducing in the secretary’s office today. 

Under this legislation, all schools would have to establish policies and protocols for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, including mandatory prevention-oriented education for staff, students, and parents.

We learned last year of a school that did not report allegations of child sexual abuse properly and this bill should help fix that. 

The bill would also increase the requirements of what efforts DCPS and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any individual they are hiring who will have direct contact with students.

As a companion bill to this legislation, I also am introducing today in the secretary’s office the “Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018.

That bill focuses on sexual violence among students, requiring all schools to establish policies to prevent and properly respond to instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence.

I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were punishing the victims of sexual assault rather than seeking to support them and address the behaviors of the perpetrators.

As part of prevention efforts, the bill also requires DCPS and public charter schools to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Lastly, I want to note that I also introduced today in the secretary’s office a third school safety-focused bill that would establish an anonymous hotline for reporting instances of student plans to harm others or themselves, modeled on similar successful programs in other states.

At a time when the federal Department of Education is promoting more guns in schools as a response to violence, I am excited to continue the conversation in D.C. about how to truly make our schools safer places.

Comment

Comment

Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018

Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018

Introduced: September 18, 2018

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne K. Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen.

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To establish a requirement that all schools in the District of Columbia shall adopt and implement a policy to prevent and address sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence among student and to amend the Healthy Schools Act to require that local education agencies shall provide age-appropriate instruction on consent.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Throughout the past year, the national conversation about school safety has focused on school shooting incidents, particularly as a result of the willingness of survivors of the Parkland, Florida tragedy to speak out.

While those mass-casualty incidents are deeply disturbing, despite seeming to happen ever more often, they remain fairly rare when compared to other forms of violence that affect our students and schools.

Locally, we had the misfortune to witness another form of violence over the past year—teachers sexually abusing children and students sexually assaulting other students.

It was upsetting enough to learn of the these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate.

The School Safety Act seeks to fix that going forward, along with accompanying legislation I am introducing in the secretary’s office today. 

Under this legislation, all schools would have to establish policies and protocols for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, including mandatory prevention-oriented education for staff, students, and parents.

We learned last year of a school that did not report allegations of child sexual abuse properly and this bill should help fix that. 

The bill would also increase the requirements of what efforts DCPS and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any individual they are hiring who will have direct contact with students.

As a companion bill to this legislation, I also am introducing today in the secretary’s office the “Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018.

That bill focuses on sexual violence among students, requiring all schools to establish policies to prevent and properly respond to instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence.

I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were punishing the victims of sexual assault rather than seeking to support them and address the behaviors of the perpetrators.

As part of prevention efforts, the bill also requires DCPS and public charter schools to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Lastly, I want to note that I also introduced today in the secretary’s office a third school safety-focused bill that would establish an anonymous hotline for reporting instances of student plans to harm others or themselves, modeled on similar successful programs in other states.

At a time when the federal Department of Education is promoting more guns in schools as a response to violence, I am excited to continue the conversation in D.C. about how to truly make our schools safer places.

Comment

Comment

School Safety Act of 2018

School Safety Act of 2018

Introduced: September 18, 2018

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne K. Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen.

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To establish a requirement that all schools in the District of Columbia shall adopt and implement a policy to prevent and address child sexual abuse and to require that District of Columbia Public Schools and public charter schools thoroughly vet potential hires including by checking the national licensing database.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Throughout the past year, the national conversation about school safety has focused on school shooting incidents, particularly as a result of the willingness of survivors of the Parkland, Florida tragedy to speak out.

While those mass-casualty incidents are deeply disturbing, despite seeming to happen ever more often, they remain fairly rare when compared to other forms of violence that affect our students and schools.

Locally, we had the misfortune to witness another form of violence over the past year—teachers sexually abusing children and students sexually assaulting other students.

It was upsetting enough to learn of the these incidents, but in too many cases we also learned that the school’s response was inadequate.

The School Safety Act seeks to fix that going forward, along with accompanying legislation I am introducing in the secretary’s office today. 

Under this legislation, all schools would have to establish policies and protocols for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, including mandatory prevention-oriented education for staff, students, and parents.

We learned last year of a school that did not report allegations of child sexual abuse properly and this bill should help fix that. 

The bill would also increase the requirements of what efforts DCPS and charter schools must make to uncover past sexual misconduct of any individual they are hiring who will have direct contact with students.

As a companion bill to this legislation, I also am introducing today in the secretary’s office the “Student Safety and Consent Education Act of 2018.

That bill focuses on sexual violence among students, requiring all schools to establish policies to prevent and properly respond to instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence.

I was disturbed by reports last year that high schools were punishing the victims of sexual assault rather than seeking to support them and address the behaviors of the perpetrators.

As part of prevention efforts, the bill also requires DCPS and public charter schools to provide age-appropriate instruction to students on consent, personal boundaries, and healthy relationships.

Lastly, I want to note that I also introduced today in the secretary’s office a third school safety-focused bill that would establish an anonymous hotline for reporting instances of student plans to harm others or themselves, modeled on similar successful programs in other states.

At a time when the federal Department of Education is promoting more guns in schools as a response to violence, I am excited to continue the conversation in D.C. about how to truly make our schools safer places.

Comment