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Dept. of Corrections response leaves unanswered questions on employees in medical marijuana programs

In November, Councilmember Grosso sent a letter to the Department of Corrections to inquire about the Department’s policy and practices for drug and alcohol testing of employees. Specifically, the councilmember was interested in whether or not DOC was taking into account employees’ enrollment in medical marijuana programs as part of such testing.

“If an employee, for example, is undergoing treatment for cancer and is prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor to help with the side effects of treatment, it seems unreasonable and inappropriate that the employee would be penalized, or even subject to termination, because of seeking such medical care,” Grosso wrote.

After a delayed response, Director Quincy Booth laid out DOC’s practices and procedures and its adherence to District law. However, the response sidestepped a question specifically aimed at how DOC takes into account an employees enrollment in the medical marijuana program, instead focusing on how DOC complies, as other D.C. agencies do, with the impact of Initiative 71.

Initiative 71 dealt with recreational, not medical, marijuana.

The D.C. Department of Human Resources specifically sets out an exception for medical marijuana in District Personnel Manual Instruction No. 4-34, similar to exceptions for other prescription drugs

Councilmember Grosso will follow up with the Department of Corrections and the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety to ensure District government employees in the medical marijuana program are treated equally to those who require other prescription drugs for medical purposes.

Read Councilmember Grosso’s letter and DOC’s responses below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grosso proposes 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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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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