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Councilmember Grosso requests more information on DCPS deficit

Today Councilmember Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Chairman Phil Mendelson sent the below letter to D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee requesting more information on issues raised at the June 26 hearing on school budgeting, including what the scope of their projected deficit is for the current and next fiscal years. They have requested a response by Friday, July 12, 2019.

Update July 12, 2019: Chancellor Ferebee sent a response to Councilmember Grosso and Chairman Mendelson. You can read it here and below.

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on suspension of Springboard programs at D.C. schools

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on suspension of Springboard programs at D.C. schools

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, on the suspension of Springboard Education’s before- and after-care programs following a sexual abuse incident that involved a Springboard employee at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan:

“I take very seriously the issue of sexual assault and abuse, especially against our students. Youth deserve a safe environment in which to learn and incidents like what happened at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan violate their sense of security. We must redouble our efforts to prevent these violations. 

“That is why I recently introduced, passed, and fully funded the School Safety Omnibus Amendment Act. This law 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. The bill also increases the requirements of D.C. Public Schools, charter schools, and private schools to uncover past sexual misconduct of any potential employees who will have direct contact with students, including those who provide before- and after-care. Schools must also train staff, contractors, and volunteers on preventing, detecting, and reporting sexual abuse or misconduct. 

“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 traditional public, public charter, and private 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.

“I want to commend DCPS for following the proper protocols and referring the situation to the Metropolitan Police Department when they were informed of the incident. I also applaud both DCPS and charter schools who have contracted with Springboard for acting swiftly to suspend their services. However, greater efforts must be made before employees ever step foot in our schools to guarantee that they do not intend to harm our students. I have further questions about how schools, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education when appropriate, are ensuring that contractors like Springboard have conducted the proper screening of employees. This incident also shows the need for training and clear policies on detecting sexual abuse including red flags of potential violations.”

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FY2020 Budget Oversight Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has received responses to his pre-hearing budget oversight questions from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Board of Education, The Office of the Student Advocate, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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FY2018 Performance Oversight Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has received responses to his pre-hearing performance oversight questions from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Board of Education, The Office of the Student Advocate, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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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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Grosso inquires about access to home and hospital instruction services for students

On July 11, 2018, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education and member of the Committee on Health, sent a letter to interim D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Amanda Alexander expressing concern that some children may not be receiving Home and Hospital Instruction Program (HIPP) services which are aimed at supporting students with physical disability and/or health impairment who are confined to home or hospital for three or more weeks.

"...there seems to be a lack of information and transparency about the process for determining a child's eligibility for HIPP and for appealing that decision," he wrote.

UPDATE: Grosso provided a list of questions to DCPS and received a response on August 3rd from DCPS which can be found here and below, along with the HHIP program manual and original letter from Councilmember Grosso.

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DCPS responses to Grosso's follow up inquiries on graduation accountability

On July 25th, 2018, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, received a response from DCPS to a letter he sent to D.C. Public Schools Interim Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander with several questions following up on questions asked at the June 13, 2018, public oversight roundtable on graduation accountability. The purpose of the roundtable was to get an update from OSSE, DCPS, and PCSB on the implementation of Alvarez and Marsal’s recommendations on improving graduation accountability.  The response is below, along with the original letter Councilmember Grosso sent to DCPS.

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DCPS responses to Grosso's inquiries on graduation accountability

Today, Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, received a response from DCPS to a letter he sent to D.C. Public Schools Interim Chancellor Dr. Amanda Alexander with several questions in advance of the upcoming June 13, 2018 public oversight roundtable on graduation accountability. The purpose of the roundtable is to get an update from OSSE, DCPS, and PCSB on the implementation of Alvarez and Marsal’s recommendations on improving graduation accountability.  The response is below, along with response follow up questions from DCPS on questions asked at the May 10, 2018 roundtable.

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DCPS provides data following hearing on attendance

D.C. Public Schools has provided to Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, data he requested at the May 10 hearing on school attendance. At the hearing, Grosso requested from interim DCPS Chancellor the number of seniors who, but for their absences, would meet requirements for graduation.  DCPS provided that data on May 11th, stating that 80 seniors, or 2.2 percent of the class of 2018 cohort, were not on track to graduate based solely on absences.

You can read the updated DCPS Graduation Report here.

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FY2019 Budget Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has sent pre-hearing questions to D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, and the Deputy Mayor for Education as part of the annual FY2019 budget process. Responses to pre-hearing questions will be uploaded as they are received by the Committee on Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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Grosso calls on mayor to deepen graduation investigation into charter high schools and lower grades

For Immediate Release:
February 21, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso calls on mayor to deepen graduation investigation into charter high schools and lower grades

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education, today urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to expand the investigation into attendance and grade promotion at District of Columbia traditional public and public charter schools.

“After holding two public hearings on graduation accountability and receiving compelling evidence that teachers throughout the city, across grade levels, and in both sectors of public education feel pressure to pass students, it appears that these issues may extend beyond high schools,” wrote Grosso in a letter to Bowser.

He requested that Mayor Bowser direct the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) to extend its contract with the third-party firm Alvarez & Marsal, or similar independent firm, to broaden the investigation that began in December to audit every public charter high schools’ attendance and graduation policies.  It should also deepen the investigation to lower grades by examining the attendance and grade promotion in both traditional public and public charter elementary and middle schools.

Alvarez & Marsal found in a report released in January that 34 percent of the 2017 District of Columbia Public Schools graduates were awarded high school diplomas in violation of district attendance or grading policies.

“Those results were extremely troubling, but they do not tell the whole story,” said Grosso. “A cross-sector, system-wide examination will provide a more accurate picture of whether or not our children are prepared for the next milestone in their academic career before advancing.”

Grosso has requested a response from the mayor before a previously scheduled Committee on Education oversight hearing on March 1, 2018.

“I believe that with a complete investigation, our city will better understand the breadth and depth of this issue and be better positioned to develop meaningful solutions,” Grosso wrote. “

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Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the resignation of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson

For Immediate Release:
February 20, 2018
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

 

Statement of Councilmember Grosso on the resignation of D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large), chairperson of the Committee on Education released the following statement on today's resignation of District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson:

"I am concerned about stability in our school system and making decisions that support the student body citywide.  I intend to remain focused on continuing to expand the good work that is being done in our schools.

"I welcome the resignation of Chancellor Antwan Wilson.  His actions violated the trust of the DCPS community and I believe it has become evident that no amount of effort on his part would restore their faith in him. His departure will allow the school system to move beyond this distraction and allow our focus to be shifted back to working in the best interest of our students.

"The situation the city finds itself in is a major setback for public education in the District of Columbia—two top education leadership positions are now held by interim appointments. There has been great progress made in our schools, but that does not diminish the many challenges they still face. Strong leadership is required to confront graduation rate accountability, school attendance, the persistent achievement gap, and support our students' non-academic needs. 

"As chairperson of the Committee on Education, I intend to continue leading in a strong oversight role during performance and budget oversight. I look forward to working with Dr. Amanda Alexander as interim Chancellor and Ahnna Smith as interim Deputy Mayor for Education as we address these and other issues until permanent replacements are found-a search in which I anticipate being heavily engaged. As in the past, the Committee will hold several public conversations and hearings on the candidates' qualities and qualifications once they are named."

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