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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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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 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 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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PARCC scores show incremental progress, persistent gaps

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

PARCC scores show incremental progress, persistent gaps

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 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores from assessments administered in the 2017-2018 school year:

“The PARCC results released today demonstrate that the District of Columbia continues to improve educational outcomes for its students.  Year after year we have seen incremental gains in nearly every group of students, something unheard of in other states that administer this assessment.  I’m particularly encouraged by the 7-point drop in the number of students who scored in the lowest two levels over the past 4 years. This is a strong indicator that efforts to reach our lowest performing students are paying dividends. 

“However, the results also illuminate that work remains.  Though racial groups and at-risk students saw gains overall, the gap between their achievement and that of their peers continues. Closing that gap will continue to remain our education system’s greatest challenge and will need to be a major focus of the education leaders the mayor will nominate in the coming months.”
 

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Cardinal Wuerl should resign in wake of Pennsylvania child abuse report

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

Cardinal Wuerl should resign in wake of Pennsylvania child abuse report

Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), author of the Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017, released the following statement:

“There are few actions more depraved than sexual violence against children, and the experience of abuse is one that endures for years. It destroys the unique innocence of childhood and leaves many survivors suffering for years with depression, feelings of guilt, and sometimes difficulty forming intimate relationships.

“The groundbreaking investigation into clerical sex abuse of minors in Pennsylvania forces us to face a painful truth: the Catholic Church has institutionalized sexual abuse by systematically shielding or blatantly covering up the criminal acts of priests and other church officials.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report is harrowing and revelatory. It raises serious questions about the fitness of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who previously spent 18 years as the bishop of Pittsburgh and now serves as the archbishop of Washington, D.C. Tuesday’s report details several instances of Wuerl covering for abusive priests.

“Just last month, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who previously served as the archbishop of the District of Columbia, and was one of the highest-ranking Vatican officials, resigned amid numerous accusations of sexual abuse.

“What is happening in Pennsylvania is a watershed moment in the Catholic Church child sex abuse crisis. We cannot stand idly by—deliberate action is imperative. Child safety depends on holding institutions, not just individual perpetrators, accountable for their actions.  It is for this reason that I believe Cardinal Wuerl should immediately resign. 

“It is also time that the Council takes action to ensure that both my Childhood Protection Against Sexual Abuse Amendment Act of 2017 and the Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Elimination Amendment Act of 2017, authored by Councilmember Cheh, become law. 

“Eliminating the civil statute of limitations and creating a two-year window for individuals whose claims of child sex abuse were previously time-barred, enables survivors to go back in time and begin working to heal.

“We cannot continue to allow individuals or institutions to maintain their depraved secrets and, while the resignation would signal a step in the right direction, both the Catholic Church and legislators must go further to protect our children.”

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Interagency working group releases recommendations to improve education of students in the care of the District of Columbia

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

Interagency working group releases recommendations to improve education of students in the care of the District of Columbia

Washington, D.C. – A working group composed of over 30 entities convened by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, today released recommendations to improve the educational outcomes of students who are in the care of the District of Columbia government.

“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.”

The Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Working Group* was brought together by Councilmember Grosso in February to improve collaboration and coordination among entities responsible for educating and caring for students who are detained, committed, incarcerated, or placed in foster care.

“In my time on the Council, I have consistently raised concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline. However, the educational needs of our students who are involved with the justice or foster care systems have not received the attention they deserve,” said Grosso.

Students in the care of D.C. experience many disruptions to education which make it difficult for them to achieve their educational goals, according to the report.

Those 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 group issued nearly 40 recommendations for the various agencies that are involved in the care and education of youth in D.C. to improve their communication, collaboration, and coordination. Additionally, the working group recommends three legislative solutions, which Councilmember Grosso intends to explore for introduction when the Council returns from recess in the fall.

Other councilmembers participated in the working group and expressed a commitment to continuing the work started by Grosso.

“I was encouraged to see such a large coalition of stakeholders and advocates participate, which allowed us to gain a greater understanding of the challenges faced by students in the care of the District, involved in the juvenile justice system, and in foster care,” said Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau, chairperson of the Committee on Human Services. “With this knowledge, I look forward to working with Councilmember Grosso and the rest of Council to improve how the District oversees the education and care of some our most vulnerable students.”

“The District government has a responsibility to provide the children in our juvenile justice, criminal justice and child welfare systems with a meaningful education,” said At-Large Councilmember Robert White. “I commend Councilmember Grosso and all the members of the Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Working Group for working collaboratively to reduce the barriers faced by too many children in the District's care.”

“I applaud the agencies who participated in the working group for their willingness to acknowledge shortcomings and commit to improvement for the sake of these underserved youth. I also greatly appreciate the engagement of advocacy organizations, youth, and my Council colleagues to charter a path forward on this vital issue,” said Grosso.

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*The Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Working Group comprised Advocates for Justice and Education; Campaign for Youth Justice; Center for Educational, Excellence in Alternative Settings; Children’s Law Center; Council for Court Excellence; Court Services & Offender Supervision Agency; D.C. Child and Family Services Agency; D.C. Corrections Information Council; D.C. Department of Corrections; D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Service; D.C. Public Charter School Board; D.C. Public Schools; D.C. ReEngagement Center; Free Minds Book Club; Georgetown University Law Juvenile Justice Initiative; GOODProjects; Kingsman Academy Public Charter School; Maya Angelou Schools & SeeForever Foundation; Monument Academy Public Charter School; Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau (Ward 1), Chairperson of the Committee on Human Services; Office of Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6), Chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety; Office of Councilmember David Grosso (At-Large), Chairperson of the Committee on Education; Office of Councilmember Robert C. White Jr. (At-Large); Office of Councilmember Trayon White, Sr. (Ward 8); Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia; Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education; Office of the State Superintendent of Education; Open City Advocates; Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; School Justice Project; Superior Court of the District of Columbia Family Court Social Services Division

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Education Committee continues work on outstanding education concerns over Council’s summer recess

For Immediate Release:
July 13, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.286.1987 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Education Committee continues work on outstanding education concerns over Council’s summer recess

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, about the Committee’s work focus over the Council’s summer recess:

“Over the past eight months I have held several hearings, roundtables, town halls, and public engagement sessions focused on the challenges the District of Columbia faces in preparing our students for college, career, and life, but also with the structure of our education system. I believe we have made significant progress on several fronts, including a budget that invests in greater academic and non-academic supports for our students, keeps students in school by reducing exclusionary discipline, provides unprecedented funding for equitable out-of-school time programming, and requires additional transparency in how schools expend public dollars.

“There is still much more we must accomplish. Over the summer, my staff and I are working diligently so that we can address concerns that have been voiced over the first half of this year and continue putting students in the best position to succeed once the Council returns in the middle of September.

“One area of agreement I have gleaned from community conversations is the need for a more independent Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Over the summer, I will engage students, parents, educators, my colleagues, the community, and policy experts on how best to empower our state education agency and reduce the influence of politics on its work. I anticipate introducing legislation on this matter in the fall.

“I will continue meeting with OSSE, DCPS, and the Public Charter School Board, and the interim Deputy Mayor for Education, to monitor final graduation rates for school year 2017-2018, and the implementation of the corrective action plan to ensure we are graduating and promoting students who have met their academic requirements and are prepared for the next step on their academic or workforce journey in 2019.

“My staff is also conducting research and benchmarking policy proposals to create greater cross-sector budget transparency, provide adequate special education supports, promote school attendance through improved safe passage and transportation options, and improve school safety.

“Finally, as the mayor’s Chancellor search committee and Office of Talent and Appointments identify nominees to fill the vacuum of executive education leadership in the city, I will lay out a public engagement process to solicit the feedback of education stakeholders, especially teachers, in the confirmation of permanent Deputy Mayor for Education and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor.

“I invite the public to contact my office with their thoughts on any of these issues and encourage youth and the community to attend the four remaining Summer Education Town Halls I am holding across the city. Your continued engagement is integral to our students’ success.”

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Grosso names Akeem Anderson as new Education Committee director

For Immediate Release:
July 10, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso names Akeem Anderson as new Education Committee director

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, appointed Akeem Anderson the new director of the Committee on Education, effective June 25, 2018.

“I am extremely excited to welcome Akeem to Team Grosso as our new committee director and have been impressed with the enthusiasm he has shown in just a few short weeks on the job,” said Grosso of the appointment. “Akeem comes to the committee at a turbulent time for public education in the District of Columbia, but I have no doubt that his experience, professionalism, and passion will serve the committee’s integral oversight role and innovative policy development well as we continue the work to put every D.C. child in the best position to succeed.”

“I look forward to bringing my experiences both in the classroom and at DCPS to the Committee on Education and Councilmember Grosso’s work as chairperson to continue building on the successes in the D.C. education sector over the last 10 years with a particular focus on continuing to support the development of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring equity in supports and resources across the District,” said Anderson.

Prior to his appointment, Anderson served two and a half years at D.C. Public Schools as a Continuous Improvements Specialist in the Office of School Design and Continuous Improvements. There he worked with school leaders in DCPS to identify trends in student performance data, used those trends to craft school plans, and tracked success throughout the school year. Before that, Anderson worked with schools in crafting and monitoring their school turnaround plans and also co-managed the District's Empowering Males of Color Grant—16 grants that cover 22 schools aimed at increasing academic and socio-emotional outcomes for Black and Latino boys in DCPS.

A 2008 Greater New Orleans TFA Corps Member, Anderson taught in New Orleans schools for two years before working for TFA-New Orleans as a Manager Corps and Partner Relations. He holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from Mercer University.

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Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on Police Incident Outside Nook’s Barbershop

For Immediate Release: 
June 26, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on Police Incident Outside Nook’s Barbershop

Washington, D.C. –The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) on the incident that occurred at Nook’s Barbershop in Deanwood on June 13, 2018:

“The police-initiated incident at Nook’s Barbershop is emblematic of an approach to policing that has led to a lack of trust between our police and the neighborhoods they serve. More police and aggressive, questionable tactics have all been tried before and yet violence persists. There is a better way.

“As I have said before, I remain committed to a different approach to public safety, one that would see a transformation of the Metropolitan Police Department into an agency whose highest priorities include promoting non-violence and collaborating meaningfully with our communities and neighborhoods. It would be about recognizing that people in the community should be leaders in creating a safer environment, with support of the police, not the other way around.

“The community deserves answers. I look forward to the completion of an investigation with the findings being made public as soon as possible.”
 

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Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso promotes retail equity with bill to prohibit cashless retail

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation that promotes equity at local businesses by ending the trend towards cashless retail, a discriminatory practice that excludes District residents who do not have a credit or debit card.

The Cashless Retailers Prohibition Act of 2018 requires retail food establishments operating in the District of Columbia to accept cash as a form of payment. Further, it prohibits the discrimination against anyone who chooses to use cash as a form of payment, such as charging different prices.

“By denying patrons the ability to use cash as a form of payment, businesses are effectively telling lower-income and young patrons that they are not welcome,” Grosso said. “Practices like this further stratify our diverse city when we should be working to foster greater inclusion.”

One in ten residents in the District of Columbia has no bank. An additional one in four are underbanked and therefore may not have access to a debit or credit card.  

“Through this bill, we can ensure that all D.C. residents and visitors can continue to patronize the businesses they choose while avoiding the potential embarrassment of being denied service simply because they lack a credit card,” Grosso said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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