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Testimony: DC Public Schools Oversight Hearing (FY14)

In testimony today at the oversight hearing for DC Public Schools (DCPS), Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow talked about the school system’s performance in special education during the past year and made recommendations for future improvements.

These recommendations include: 

Special Education Capacity Building
  • Identify and fix the gaps in special education services that exist at multiple levels within the school system. 
  • Eliminate the option for charter schools to use DCPS as the administrator for their special education services. 
Transition Services
  • Assess the vocational and life skills training needs of older special education students to better prepare them for further education, careers, and independent living, and evaluate the established programs already in place to determine the effectiveness.
  • Use the evaluative information from the assessment to develop and implement a plan to expand opportunities in coordination with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
Family Engagement
  • Increase public awareness of school program offerings, and make the information about which schools are wheelchair-accessible available online.
  • Make information about the school system’s policies available to the public, and provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the policy development process. 
  • Include parents in the program and school placement decisionmaking process. 
Mental Health Support
  • Continue to increase the number of school-based mental health providers, so the school system is in full compliance with a new requirement for all schools to have school-based programs in place by the 2016-2017 school year. 
  • Adopt innovative programs to support students affected by poverty, trauma, and toxic stress.
Read the full transcript as submitted to the Council.