Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on Bill 21-918, “State Board of Education Omnibus Amendment Act of 2016.” The hearing will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, November 14, 2016 in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Grosso announces public roundtable on the state of special education and disability services in public schools
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on the state of special education and disability services in DC public and public charter schools. The roundtable will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on B21-865, “Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016.” The hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 31, 2016 in Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on the school health services program coordinated by the Department of Health. The hearing will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on PR21-931, Board of Library Trustees Faith Gibson Hubbard Confirmation Resolution of 2016. The roundtable will be held at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, October 20, 2016 in Hearing Room 120 of the John A. Wilson Building.
Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), along with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), today urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to release funds from the Contingency Reserve to allow the District of Columbia to move forward with creating a system for the taxation and regulation of marijuana.
Here is the full letter:
For Immediate Release:
October 5, 2016
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
Washington, D.C. – Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) released the following statement following his vote in the Committee on Health and Human Services to advance Bill 21-38, the Death with Dignity Act of 2016:
“Bill 21-38, the “Death with Dignity Act of 2016”, is one of the more difficult pieces of legislation I have had to contend with in my time on the Council. It deals with very complex and emotional issues, and the stakes are life and death. At the very heart of the issue is balancing the personal rights of adults with the government interest in protecting vulnerable individuals. Ultimately, my guiding principles to respect an individual’s rights to make their own decisions and to rely on the best available data when making decisions led me to support this legislation today.
“It was not a decision I came to lightly. I met extensively with many different people and organizations with varied opinions on it over the past two months: The Arc, D.C. Center for Independent Living, National Council on Independent Living, and other disability rights advocates; Compassion and Choices, the Secular Coalition for America and other advocates for the bill; doctors, nurses, and medical ethicists; D.C. residents struggling with terminal disease and wishing to have physician assistance in death; and many more. I have also heard from countless constituents on both sides of the issue. These advocates are very passionate, and I appreciate their consistent engagement to provide the Council with multiple perspectives that helped us examine this issue from every angle.
“I would prefer the government not be involved at all with this issue. A matter this personal should be considered thoughtfully between an individual, their family and friends, and their doctor.
“However, part of why this issue is so contentious is because of fears about coercion, and the duty of the government to protect the vulnerable. I am apprehensive about this bill because I know the reality that many members of our community do not have equitable access to healthcare, and are viewed as inherently less valuable by our society. I take very seriously the concerns of people with disabilities who worry that this legislation will be used to coerce individuals into ending their lives prematurely.
“The devil is in the details, and we must fully consider them and take great care in enacting and implementing this bill. I would like to know how this bill would envision an investigation into an instance of possible coercion. I would like to know how this bill ensures that no one in the District of Columbia will be told by their insurance that an experimental treatment is too expensive, but that Death with Dignity is affordable and a better option. And I would like to know what we will do as a Council if we pass this legislation to send a clear message that no matter the challenges an individual might face in life, no matter the illness or disabilities they may face, that this is the only life we get and we should live it to the fullest, even in circumstances that are challenging, unpleasant, and unfamiliar.
“To some it may seem to go against a lot of the work I have done trying to prevent suicide since the residents of the District of Columbia elected me to serve on the Council. Just last fall, we passed a bill I wrote that seeks to address suicide and mental health among young people.
“I remain dedicated to continue that work.
“Yet, as a matter of basic principle, I believe that adults should be able to make choices about their own lives and bodies. It is hard for me to imagine telling a person in the final months of their life that they must continue to fight if they desire to end things on their own terms.
“Equally important to me is to base legislative decisions on data. The data from other states have not shown that similar laws have targeted vulnerable communities. To the contrary, in Oregon, where this has been law for 20 years, those taking the covered medication are more likely to be economically and educationally privileged. There have also been no substantiated cases of coercion.
“So today, I voted in favor of advancing this bill. However, my work does not end here. I will continue to discuss this legislation and potential amendments with Councilmember Alexander, Councilmember Cheh, and our other colleagues. I also want to reiterate my commitment to fight for the rights of people with disabilities and the elderly, and that my work on issues of mental health and suicide prevention will continue.
“In the event that the Council passes this bill, I will keep a close eye on its implementation and if there are problems I will be the first to propose changes.
“I would like to thank all of the advocates and community members who have met with me, reached out to me, and engaged in the process, because your participation in this debate is critical and will continue to be invaluable as this legislation moves forward.”
Over the weekend, Councilmember Grosso heard from a long time resident, who has been voting in D.C. elections since 1964, that she received a notice of no longer being registered to vote from the D.C. Board of Elections. Subsequently, other residents also reached out with the same problem. After looking into it, Grosso found the agency's response inadequate and wrote to the Board today to ask that they address the issue immediately, as early voting for the 2016 election starts next month. See the letter below, followed by an example of what residents received--and the registration card that shows a birthdate in 1800, which is the source of the problem.
Update: Less than a day later, the Board of Elections responded to Councilmember Grosso's letter saying they will be sending a clarifying mailer to voters affected by the original confusing notice. You can see their response below.
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing on at-risk funding for public schools. The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building.
In August, Councilmember Grosso sent a lengthy letter outlining a number of concerns to Department of Health Director Nesbitt. The letter covered the agency’s response to the increase in opioid overdoses, changes to home visiting programs, updates on LGBTQ health policies, health impact assessments, and the agency’s medical marijuana program.
On September 13, Grosso received a response from Nesbitt, which you can view below along with Grosso’s original letter. This past week brought further progress on some issues, as the Council’s Committee on Health and Human Services passed the Substance Abuse and Opioid Overdoes Prevention Amendment Act of 2016 and the mayor announced the doubling of the amount of cannabis medical marijuana program participants may request in a month. Grosso, a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, will continue to monitor these topics and push DOH to improve its policies and programs, and make them known to the public.
Councilmember Grosso's original inquiry letter:
Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on youth issues. The roundtable will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 in Hearing Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building. The purpose of this roundtable is to hear testimony from District of Columbia youth regarding issues that impact their lives as they make their way through the public education system.
For Immediate Release:
September 20, 2016
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105
Grosso tackles pay gap, student debt, and out-of-school time as Council returns to work
Washington, DC – The Council of the District of Columbia returned from its annual summer recess today and Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) wasted no time proposing solutions to challenges faced by the District of Columbia. The gender and racial pay gap, funding for critical out-of-school time activities, and the growing student debt problem were the focus of new legislation introduced by the councilmember.
Closing the District Wage Gap
Grosso introduced the Fair Wage Amendment Act of 2016 to address persistent pay inequities for women, especially women of color, face in D.C.
“Equal pay for equal work is a simple concept. Yet, even in D.C. the wage gap that women experience persists,” said Grosso.
The bill would prohibit employers in the city from requesting information about a prospective employee’s salary and benefit history before an employer makes a job and compensation offer. This would help to end a practice that perpetuates the wage gap.
“Leaving a job that is unfairly compensating you is no guarantee that your pay will be much better when employers make job offers based on previous, deflated wages. We can break that cycle.”
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, women in D.C. make 90 cents for every dollar paid to men. It’s much worse for women of color: African-American women earn just 56 cents on the dollar and Latinas just 50 cents when compared to white, non-Hispanic men.
Addressing Student Loan Debt
“Growing student debt presents a serious challenge for our residents and our local economy, creating a burden that follows them and stifles every aspect of their lives: buying a house, starting a business, saving for retirement, and furthering their education,” Grosso said. “This bill is a first step that assists District borrowers and increases servicer accountability.”
The bill would create an ombudsman in the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking empowered to establish licensing requirements for student loan servicers in the city. They would also be charged with informing D.C. residents about their options when seeking student loans and when working to repay them.
Recommitting to Youth Development
Finally, Grosso, along with Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, introduced the Office of Youth Outcomes and Grants Establishment Act of 2016. The bill establishes a framework for greater strategy-setting, coordination and funding for out-of-school programming.
Out-of-school time programming has myriad benefits to youth who participate, improving their educational, behavioral, and physical health outcomes. Funding for such programming currently comes from many government agencies, including grants to youth-serving groups via the D.C. Trust, which dissolves on September 30.
“What we are proposing today provides equitable access to quality out-of-school time services, which we know help best position our students to succeed,” Grosso said. “As Chairperson of the Committee on Education, I see this coordinated, data-driven, multi-agency effort as an opportunity to create real results, insulated from the political manipulation and financial impropriety of the past.”
The bill establishes both an Office and a Commission on Youth Outcomes and Grants charged with overseeing inter-agency coordination, tracking data and assessing need and outcomes, and making grants to organizations that provide out-of-school programming to District of Columbia youth.
“This legislation is informed by the efforts led by the Deputy Mayors for Health and Human Services and Education to plot the next steps for our out of school time efforts in light of the Trust’s dissolution. I look forward to continuing to work with them and other stakeholders to incorporate their input as we move through the legislative process.”
Guaranteeing our children not only feel safe at school, but also on their way to and from, allows them to focus on learning and is a primary concern of Councilmember Grosso. In August, he requested that the Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles and Chief of Police Cathy Lanier share their plans to keep students safe and what information they are sharing with parents. With the recent increases in violent crime and delays caused by Metro’s SafeTrack programming, these plans are even more important.
Deputy Mayor Niles responded to the councilmember with a letter laying out their efforts on school safety planning as well as for SafeTrack. Below you can find the letter Councilmember Grosso received from the deputy mayor, a summary of the SafeTrack communications plan, the Metropolitan Police Department's Annual School Safety and Security Report, as well as the original letter Councilmember Grosso sent.
In July, my staff and I took advantage of the Council recess period to volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen in Foggy Bottom.
Miriam’s Kitchen does outstanding work assisting our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. On one of the hottest days of the year, they provided visitors a welcoming place to cool off, grab a drink of water, and wash up. After I toured the facility, I had the opportunity to meet with guests who were participating in art therapy, hand out essential toiletries, and assist with meal preparation.
Miriam’s Kitchen is so much “more than a meal”, as they like to say.
Throughout my experience, I was impressed by how Miriam’s staff and volunteers were not just serving guests, but treating them with respect and dignity, just like everyone deserves. They have developed a rapport with each visitor that allows them to address their specific needs, connect them with services, and help put them on the path out of homelessness.
I am dedicated to promoting the human rights of all the people of the District of Columbia through my work on the Council. I believe that all have the right to integral facets of our society like access to quality education, health care, and employment. Every day we grapple with how to address the myriad challenges facing residents who are experiencing homelessness and how those impede the fulfillment of those guarantees.
I have spent my first term working on these issues, from making it easier for these residents to obtain identity documents that are critical to modern life, to ensuring that homeless students are in the best position to continue their education. Policy decisions often have immediate and longstanding impacts. For this reason it is important for lawmakers to stay connected to what is happening on the ground to ensure we are getting it right.
There is still much to do to combat chronic homelessness in the District of Columbia. My staff and I look forward to the day when there is no longer a need for organizations like Miriam’s Kitchen. Until then, we’ll be back as soon as we can to do our part hands-on, in addition to our daily policy work. I hope you will consider volunteering your time to support Miriam’s Kitchen and the people they serve. You can learn more at www.miriamskitchen.org/volunteer.
Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, released the following statement on today’s release of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores for the District of Columbia:
At the urging of Councilmember Grosso, the Department of Human Resources (DCHR) has modified the offensive gender terms utilized on a background check application form administered by an outside vendor.
Originally, when filling out the form, candidates and employees would be presented with gender options that were unacceptable and inconsistent with the D.C. Human Rights Act. DCHR worked with the FBI and the vendor, Fieldprint, to modify the gender options to “Female”, “Male”, and “Other”.
Councilmember Grosso believes all D.C. residents and employees should be treated with dignity and respect and appreciates the quick remediation of the issue on the part of DCHR.
Below, you will find the letter from DCHR. The original letter from Councilmember Grosso to the city administrator can be found here.
Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, sent a letter today to Mayor Muriel Bowser, outlining important characteristics that should be considered as she moves forward with the search for a new chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.
In Councilmember Grosso's view, the ideal candidate for the job will have past work demonstrating a commitment to closing the achievement gap; share Chancellor Henderson's commitment to equity; have a track record of engaging the whole community to serve the whole child; be willing to engage in cross-sector collaboration; and "keep the trains running on time".
During an oversight hearing with the D.C. Public Library this spring, Councilmember Grosso asked Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan and Board of Trustees President Greg McCarthy about an incident at Shaw Library in March. A DCPL police officer asked a library patron to remove her hijab, a headcovering used by many Muslim women, and allegedly threatened her with arrest if she did not comply. Mr. Reyes-Gavilan and Mr. McCarthy both committed to following up on the incident and ensuring that similar incident would not happen again. Grosso sent a letter this summer to inquire about the library's complaint process, training, and other actions taken to address the incident. You can read Grosso's letter and the library's response below.
On July 18 and August 2, Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, invited educators throughout the District to attend a summer educator townhall to discuss issues that impact their ability to teach students. Some fifty teachers candidly engaged in a provocative dialogue with Councilmember Grosso about some of the most pressing issues troubling public and public charter schools throughout the District of Columbia, from their point of view.
We’ve highlighted just some of the comments made during the conversations below.
Today, Councilmember David Grosso sent a letter to City Administrator Rashad Young requesting remediation of offensive and unacceptable language relating to an individual's gender identity on a background check application form administered by an outside vendor utilized by the D.C. Department of Human Resources.