Interagency Working Group Releases Report on Education for Court-Involved Students in DC

For Immediate Release 

July 18, 2018

Contact: Claire Nilsen Blumenson, (202) 656-9136, cblumenson@sjpdc.org 

Interagency Working Group Releases Report & Recommendations for Improving Education for Court-Involved Students in DC

Washington, D.C.—On July 18, 2018, Councilmember David Grosso’s office released a Report and Recommendations from the Education for Students in DC Care Working Group. The report proposes three legislative recommendations and 40 policy recommendations to improve education access and outcomes for court-involved students. 

Legislative recommendations include creating an interagency commission on education for court-involved youth, addressing the credits issue, and ensuring access to free special education lawyers for students ages 18-22 by expanding the use of court-appointed special education lawyers. 

School Justice Project (SJP) participated in the Working Group and supports the Report’s recommendations. As a special education legal services and advocacy organization for students in DC’s juvenile and criminal justice systems, SJP is grateful to Councilmember Grosso for prioritizing education for court-involved students. Claire Blumenson, SJP’s Executive Director & Co-Founder, stated that “Students in the justice systems are often left out of the education reform conversation entirely. Councilmember Grosso and his team’s work convening stakeholders and empowering court-involved students is already expanding the conversation around education access, quality, and equity.”

The Working Group met monthly from February 2018 through June 2018, and stakeholders included government education and justice agencies, advocates and attorneys, students, and DC Council staff. “In my time on the Council, I have consistently raised concerns about the school-to-prison pipeline. However, the educational needs of our students who are involved with the justice or foster care systems have not received the attention they deserve,” said Councilmember Grosso in a press release from his office.

Councilmember Grosso convened this Working Group in response to a Roundtable he held in October 2017 on Education for Students During and After Detention, Commitment, and Incarceration. During this Roundtable, community advocates, attorneys, and students testified about the education barriers facing students in DC’s juvenile and criminal justice systems. Primary barriers included accessing special education, receiving academic credit for courses taken in facilities, and transferring student records. Complete testimonies from one of SJP’s former clients and Sarah Comeau, SJP’s Director of Programs & Co-Founder, are available here.  

SJP has repeatedly testified about the need for policy and legislative solutions to longstanding education issues facing court-involved young people. Today’s Report is a big step toward achieving educational equity in DC. SJP is grateful to Councilmember Grosso for his leadership, and we look forward to continuing our work together to ensure students in the care of DC are not left behind.

School Justice Project (SJP) is a special education legal services and advocacy organization serving older, court-involved students with disabilities in Washington, D.C. For more info, visit www.sjpdc.org or email info@sjpdc.org.