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DCist: Bowser Uses Budget To Reverse D.C. Council On Police In Schools, Child Welfare Watchdog

March 21, 2022

Photo of the John A. Wilson building.

As DC budget season gets underway, Children’s Law Center is advocating for critical investments in the safety and well-being of District children, and two of our top policy priorities are the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children and the removal of police from DC public schools. Unfortunately, Mayor Bowser’s proposed FY23 budget rolls back the gains on both these advocacy priorities by defunding the Office of the Ombudsperson and repealing the planned phase-out of School Resource Officers (SROs).

DCist’s Martin Austermuhle covered our budget advocacy on these issues and reported Executive Director Judith Sandalow’s statement on the proposed elimination of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children:

The devil is always in the details — and D.C. lawmakers are starting to find some of those devils lurking deep in the budget that Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled last Wednesday.

Amidst the proposed increases for affordable housing and pledges to build a new indoor athletic facility on the campus of RFK stadium in her $19.5 billion spending plan, Bowser is also pushing to repeal a D.C. Council-passed law that gradually pulls police officers out of public schools, and aiming to defund a newly created independent ombudsperson to oversee the city’s child welfare agency.

“We’re shocked and saddened to see the erasure of the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children not only in the mayor’s proposed budget but in the current year’s budget as well. The funding needed is pennies compared to D.C.’s $19.5 billion budget – but its impact would be huge for the thousands of D.C. children and families involved in the foster care system,” said Judith Sandalow, the director of the Children’s Law Center, in a statement.