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Testimony: District of Columbia Public Schools Oversight (FY15)

On February 19, 2015, Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, testified at the Committee on Education performance oversight hearing for District of Columbia Public Schools Public Witnesses. Ms. Sandalow urged the Committee to ensure DCPS effectively implements policies to comply with recently passed special education reform laws (the Special Education Students Rights Act of 2014, the Enhanced Special Education Services Act of 2014, and the Special Education Quality Improvement Act of 2014). She also advocated that DCPS increase its special education program capacity.

Additionally, she urged the District to adequately address school attendance issues at DCPS by keeping students in school. Specifically, she recommended the following changes:

  • Increased compliance with the legal obligation to hold Student Support Team (SST) meetings after a student’s fifth unexcused absence to identify barriers to attendance and create solutions to keep students in school. (DCPS is only 38% compliant in holding attendance SSTs.); 
  • Stop using suspension and expulsion as a form of discipline and implement alternative programs that promote a positive school climate and appropriate disciplinary approaches; 
  • Address truancy and behavioral issues by providing (and expanding current) targeted, evidenced-based programs that address the mental health and behavioral needs of students, to benefit the entire student and staff population.

Click below to read her full testimony.