Demand More Parent Engagement In the Reopening Of DC Schools Now!

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We, parent advocates of children with disabilities and Parent Advocacy Action Team fellows, and demand parents be invited to the decision making table when planning how and when to reopen schools in the District of Columbia.  We demand up-to-date, useful information in the following areas

Facilities and Programming:

  • IF DCPS’ initiative to repurpose buildings to create learning pods is specifically for special education students; and
  • IF DCPS is providing autism coaching available to families which will require sending teacher’s aides to homes of special education students to assist with virtual learning; and
  • WHAT programs that non-DCPS LEAs have for children with disabilities virtually, in the home and at school; and
  • WHAT support is being offered to child development centers, home visitors and other providers, pediatricians, and other relevant parties responsible for identifying and providing services to children receiving early childhood education; and
  • IF OSSE is offering guidance to all the LEAs on how to implement IEPs and 504 plans at this time and IF ANY measures are being taken to ensure comp-ed is going to be provided for any lapse in services during the Spring, Summer (for year round nonpublic students) and Fall semesters.

Intentional programs that serve youth and families with specific measures and benchmarks for accountability:

  • WHERE these programs are taking place;
  • A CENTRAL LOCATION of where up-to-date information can be found (i.e. central website, hotline, partnerships with community organizations); and
  • ACCESSIBLE services both online and offline for parent wellness, advocacy and training on how to support students based on their disability category.

More avenues for where directly impacted families can participate in decision-making processes–specifically issues impacting students with disabilities, those that are Black and Brown, first generation American and experiencing hardship such as:

  • CREATING a city-wide interagency and multidisciplinary body on equity in special education that includes teacher, related services specialist (OT, PT, behavior, etc.), advocacy organizations, DCPS, public charter school parents, students, and representatives from key agencies including: the Deputy Mayor for Education, OSSE, DCPS, DC Public Charter School Board, the Office of the Education Ombudsman and the Office of the State Board of Education; and
  • PROVIDE an avenue in which existing city-wide bodies that focus on special education convene to ensure synergy amongst the work, including the Chancellor’s advisory council, the State Advisory Panel on Special Education (SAPSE), Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) and any individual initiative via public charter Local Education Agencies.

Whether or not parents are at the decision-making table on these plans is unclear.  We demand immediate parent engagement from ALL 8 wards of the District of Columbia including representation from both Public and Charter schools before any more substantial plans are laid.  Families are on the receiving end of any and all decisions made pertaining to their children during this unprecedented time within their lifetimes.  Too many decisions have been for us without us.  We demand to be included in the conversation today!