D.C. Council Passes Bill to Ensure Every D.C. Child Has the Right to Be in School, Learning

May 1, 2018

D.C. Council Passes Bill to Ensure Every D.C. Child Has the Right to Be in School, Learning

Local Child Advocates Celebrate D.C. School Discipline Reforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Every Student Every Day Coalition (ESED) celebrates today’s passage of the Student Fair Access to School Act.

This legislation charts a course to all D.C. students receiving the best education possible. When fewer kids are suspended, data shows that ALL test scores improve. Addressing the root cause behind each child’s behavior leads to a long-term solution that helps every child in the classroom learn and succeed.

All members of the D.C. Council voted unanimously to pass the pivotal bill, which ensures that students across the city won’t be suspended for minor infractions, missing critical learning time. This bill helps eliminate biases in school discipline and keeps students in school, learning.

In D.C., suspensions and expulsions are overwhelmingly and disproportionately used to exclude students of color, with disabilities and in the foster care system. Black children in D.C. are nearly eight times more likely to be suspended than their white peers.

“D.C. Council took a stand against discriminatory discipline practices today and it’s a huge step in the right direction for D.C. students,” said Judith Sandalow, executive director of Children’s Law Center, which fights so every D.C. child can grow up with a loving family, good health and a quality education. “Today, our city leaders affirmed that every D.C. child has a right to an equal education. This legislation will help eliminate biases in school discipline, and ensure schools focus on giving kids the tools and supports they need to succeed in school.”

Close to 100 people, including parents, students, child advocates and education experts, testified in front of D.C. Council about the legislation. The bill places D.C. on the forefront of positive discipline reform nationwide.

"Students of color in the District are disciplined, suspended and expelled at rates that far surpass their white peers," said Nassim Moshiree, policy director, ACLU of the District of Columbia. "The passage of today's bill is a critical step towards ending the discriminatory policies that have led to this injustice against D.C. students."

The legislation’s suspension limits mean children in kindergarten through fifth grade can’t receive an out-of-school suspension for more than five consecutive days for a single incident, and older students are limited to 10 days. In addition, children are entitled to appeal suspensions that last six or more days.

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ABOUT THE EVERY STUDENT EVERY DAY COALITION
The Every Student Every Day Coalition is a team of advocacy organizations, researchers, service providers, and concerned District residents engaged in issues that affect children’s access to quality learning, including education, juvenile justice, child welfare, youth empowerment, special education and civil rights. Members include: Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc., Children's Law Center, The D.C. Alliance for Restorative Practices, D.C. Lawyers for Youth, Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaborative Council, Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA, Took-Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth, Homeless Children's Playtime Project and Advancement Project. Learn more by visiting www.D.C.ly.org/every_student_every_day_coalition.