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DCPS

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PARCC scores continue to demonstrate improvement

For Immediate Release:
August 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

PARCC scores continue to demonstrate improvement

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 2018-2019 school year:

“The PARCC results released today demonstrate that public education in the District of Columbia continues to improve. I appreciate the hard work of educators across the District of Columbia whose dedication to our students’ success has produced these positive results.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every student, regardless of race, disability, or other factor, completes their education prepared for a bright future; and while today’s results show some improvements, we still have more work to do in order to fulfill that responsibility. The data we gain from these assessments will provide us with valuable information about where our focus needs to be in order to continue our progress and put every student in the best position to succeed.”

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Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Act of 2019

Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Act of 2019

Introduced: July 9, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Trayon White

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To require every LEA to adopt and implement a home or hospital instruction program that provides academic instruction and support to students who have been or will be absent from their school of enrollment for 10 or more consecutive or cumulative school days due to a physical condition or a psychological condition; require OSSE to administer the appeals process; require OSSE to promulgate regulations.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with my colleagues, Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Brandon Todd, Mary Cheh, Robert White, and Trayon White, I am introducing the Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Act of 2019.

This legislation requires every local education agency to adopt and implement a home or hospital instruction program that provides academic instruction and support to students who have been or will be absent from their school of enrollment for 10 or more consecutive or cumulative school days due to a physical or psychological condition. It also creates an appeal process to be administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Over the past year, I and my staff have spent time reviewing the policies and practices of DCPS and speaking to the community about DCPS’ Home Hospital Instruction Program.

What I’ve learned is there is no transparency of process for determining a child’s eligibility, no clear mechanism for appealing a decision, and no basic public data about the program.

Further, students who are admitted into the Psychiatric Institute of Washington or St. Elizabeth’s Hospital don’t get any instruction at all. And it's not clear if public charter schools have a program in place, what the requirements are, or if they are in line with best practices.

More troubling is that I’ve consistently heard that many parents don’t know this program exists which puts our students further behind in their schoolwork. This legislation attempts to overcome all of these barriers so that our students can continue to learn no matter their circumstance.

I welcome any co-sponsors. Thank you.

Comment

Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

For Immediate Release: 
May 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Education, under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso, unanimously approved budget and policy recommendations that increase per student and at-risk funding over the mayor’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

“Putting our students in the best position to succeed requires a greater commitment to funding education. Despite her contention that it represents ‘historic’ investments, the mayor proposed a budget that does not keep up with the rising costs of educating our students,” Grosso said. “The Committee on Education, however, was able to work with several other committees to increase per student and at-risk funding to better support our students needs and set them up for academic success.”

This increased investment allows for full implementation of three laws that Grosso introduced and the Council passed unanimously in 2018: the Student Fair Access to School Act, the School Safety Omnibus Act, and the Students in the Care of D.C. Coordinating Committee Act.

“I’m proud of the budget we passed today. It fully invests in the Committee on Education’s efforts over the past two years to reduce exclusionary discipline, combat sexual assault and abuse in our schools, and improve the academic success of our most vulnerable students,” Grosso said.

Despite the increased resources for D.C. schools, Grosso believes greater investments are necessary to make up for where the mayor’s budget falls short.

“The budget recommendations approved today are only the beginning. I will work with Chairman Mendelson and my colleagues as the budget makes its way through the Committee of the Whole and the full Council to further bolster the resources going to our schools.”

The Committee on Education received an unprecedented amount of public input during the performance and budget oversight process this year. Since the mayor released her FY2020 budget proposal in late March, the committee held approximately 23 hours of hearings, heard from nearly 300 witnesses and received over 1,000 pages of written testimony.

“I want to thank every single member of the public for engaging with the Committee on Education on a multitude of funding issues ranging from school buildings to mental health supports to the per student funding formula,” Grosso said. “Your involvement holds us accountable and ensures that we make fiscally responsible and equitable decisions for our students and schools.”

Investment Highlights

  • Protects students’ right to an education - Fully funds implementation of the Student Fair Access to School Act with an increase in at-risk funding to support schools in addressing the root causes of behavioral issues, provide mental health supports to our students, and reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Vincent Gray and Kenyan McDuffie.

  • Addresses and prevents sexual assault and abuse in schools - Fully funds the School Safety Omnibus Act to ensure schools are working to prevent and properly handle cases of sexual assault and abuse through better policies, improved hiring practices, and age-appropriate consent education. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, and Brandon Todd.

  • Improves educational outcomes for our most vulnerable youth - Fully funds the creation of a multi-stakeholder Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Committee to identify challenges and resolve issues that students in detainment, commitment, incarceration, and foster care face in achieving academic success. Made possible with support from Councilmember Trayon White.

  • Promotes safe passage to increase student attendance - Transferred funds to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for the District Department of Transportation to coordinate with schools and communities to plan safe routes to and from school for all modes of travel.

  • Invests in a world-class central library on opening day - Provides additional investments in necessary technology and maintenance to ensure that the newly modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Central Library is fully functional when it re-opens in 2020.

Policy Recommendation Highlights

  • Directs D.C. Public Schools to research and identify alternatives to the current school budgeting method to create a model that gives schools the opportunity to thrive and address their specific needs.

  • Recommends that DCPS seek public input on and fast-track its plan to support and expand dual language immersion programs.

  • Directs the Office of the State Superintendent for Education implement the Healthy Schools Act to ensure comprehensive HIV education in all public schools, following a report that young people aged 13 to 29 made up the highest percentage of new HIV cases in a decade.

  • Directs OSSE to support the District of Columbia Education Research Collaborative by improving access to MySchoolDC and Common Lottery data.

  • Recommends that the Deputy Mayor for Education focus on improving student attendance by collaborating with DDOT to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for students who regularly miss school.

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Comment

Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, introduced legislation to improve how education investments in D.C. Public Schools serve students and provide the public with greater information on how taxpayer dollars are expended in both traditional public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.

“Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for both DCPS and charter schools,” Grosso said. “This has raised many questions from the public and elected officials about annual school funding cuts and increased calls for more transparency from both sectors. The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 seeks to provide the public and policymakers a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.”

The legislation requires DCPS to use a school-based budgeting model, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, to fund schools and submit that to the D.C. Council.

“Communities and individual school leaders know how best to meet the needs of their students,” Grosso said. “This bill would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire.”

The bill also requires greater transparency from D.C. public charter schools by subjecting them to the requirements of the D.C. Open Meetings Act and requiring the Public Charter School Board to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures–including a delineation of how at-risk funds are being spent at each school. Currently, only school budgets are published.

Finally, the bill requires that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by local education agencies and schools in a clear manner.

“These provisions give the public clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent,” Grosso said. “By no means is this the panacea to solve all of the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I believe this starts the conversation,” Grosso said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with every member of the Council, joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

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

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act of 1998 to require that the District of Columbia Public Schools submission be based on the cost associated at each school based on projected enrollment and include detailed information for each school’s funding, a separate line-item for at-risk funding for each school, and a narrative description of programs and services funded by at-risk funds; that the DCPS submission delineate cost of the central office attributed listed categories of students in each grade level; that the Public Charter School Board shall publish the detailed budget and end of year expenditures of each public charter school; to amend the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 to require the Boards of Trustees of public charter schools to comply with Title IV of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedures Act; and to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to create an electronic reporting system for the public to ensure the greatest degree of clarity and comparability by laypersons of expenditures among all public schools in the District of Columbia.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Next, along with Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, Evans, Gray, McDuffie, Nadeau, Silverman, Todd, R. White, T. White, I am introducing the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019.

Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for DCPS schools. At the same time, there is less information about funding for public charter schools. The lack of information about public schools in both sectors has raised many questions around school funding cuts and transparency.

The Council and the public have had a number of conversations about the Universal Per Student Funding Formula, At-Risk Funding, and if fund allocations meant to supplement are actually supplanting.

I have long believed that we cannot have a full and meaningful conversation on this topic until we all have similar baseline information. Unfortunately, because of the disjointedness of our education system, and specifically our funding systems, we continue to have these conversations in silos.

Last year, the Committee on Education attempted to start this conversation when it approved a Budget Support Act subtitle to require the Mayor to be more transparent about how the executive formulates DCPS and schools’ budgets. Unfortunately, that language was not included in the final BSA.

This Council Period, we are attempting to start that conversation again because it is clear that the public is clamoring for a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.

The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 attempts to bring about transparency in the following ways:

  • First, it requires DCPS use a school-based budgeting model to fund schools, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, and submit that to DC Council. This would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire. It would also require DCPS to delineate the cost of central office in its budget submission.

  • Next, Public Charter Schools must be more transparent. It would subject charter schools to the DC Open Meetings Act. Additionally, it requires PCSB to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures – currently, only school budgets are published. Also, the legislation makes clear that charters must delineate how at-risk funds are being spent at each school.

  • Finally, the bill requires that OSSE publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by LEA and by school in a clear manner. This gives parents and policymakers clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent.

By no means do I believe this is the panacea to solve all the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I do however believe this is a place to start the conversation and I look forward to having that discussion with all stakeholders.

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Comment

Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, today introduced legislation to create a technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools which will improve access to educational technology for students and create a framework to maintain and update technology into the future.

“Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hindrance to their academic pursuits,” Grosso said. “Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced and advocates with Digital Equity in DC Education have raised. In 2019, this is unacceptable.”

A Michigan State University study published in 2016 found that improved access to technology had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science.

The D.C. Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts to assess the current state of education technology in DCPS, identify gaps, and develop the Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan–a roadmap to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

“While D.C. Public Schools has made a great first step with recently announced investments in technology for critical grades, a comprehensive multi-year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary,” said Grosso.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Comment

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To require the development of a comprehensive multi-year student technology plan for the District of Columbia Public Schools that achieves a one-to-one device-to-student ratio for grades 3-12 and provides for the adequate repairing, maintaining, and updating of information technology in schools.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Along with Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds, I am introducing the District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019.

Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hinderance to their academic pursuits.

Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced.

In 2019, this is unacceptable.

Studies have shown that adequate access to technology has a positive impact on student test scores and imparts modern skills they will need to fully participate in a 21st century economy.

Up-to-date and ample technology in our schools would also improve their ability to seamlessly administer annual standardized testing, which has presented logistical challenges in years past.

The DCPS Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts.

The steering committee will be responsible for engaging the public, assessing the current state of education technology, identifying gaps in student fluency, and determining the adequacy of information technology support for each DCPS school.

This needs assessment will form the basis of a Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan that will lay out a road map to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

It will also include a framework to maintain and update technology in our schools and recommendations on how to close the gaps in student technology fluency.

At the end of February 2019, DCPS released a budget that would invest $4.6 million in technology for FY20 and provide a three-to-one technology device ratio for all students and a one-to-one ratio in grades 3, 6, and 9 in SY2019-2020.

While this is a great first step, a comprehensive, multi year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary.

In closing, I want to thank student leaders who participated in my town halls for raising their concerns last year and Digital Equity in DC Education for their continued advocacy for improving technology in our schools.

Comment

Comment

Chairperson Grosso sends follow up questions to education agencies after roundtable on improving school attendance,

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, today sent letters to the acting D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Lewis Ferebee, the Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn, and Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants Director Michelle Garcia with follow-up questions related to the joint Committee on Education/Committee of the Whole roundtable on Improving School Attendance held on January 31.

  • Read the letter sent to Acting Chancellor Lewis Ferebee here. Responses are due Feb. 22, 2019

  • Read the letter sent to Deputy Mayor Paul Kihn here. Responses are due March 1, 2019

  • Read the letter sent to Director Garcia here. Responses are due Feb. 22, 2019.

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Grosso sends Education agencies pre-hearing FY18 performance oversight questions

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, today sent to the agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction the pre-hearing questions for the annual performance oversight process, covering fiscal year 2018. find the questions posed to each agency at the links below:

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Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Addressing our education challenges requires urgent action

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

Addressing our education challenges requires urgent action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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