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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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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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