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Muriel Bowser Ward 4

John A. Wilson Building

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Phone: (202) 727-2643
Email: muriel.bowser@dc.gov

Chief of Staff:
John Falcicchio

City Administrator:
Rashad Young

Director of the Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel:
Mark Tuohey

Senior Advisor:
Beverly Perry
Director of Mayor's Office of Community Affairs:
Charon Hines

Director of Mayor's Office of Community Relations and Services:
Tommie Jones
Scheduling Requests:

February 8, 2018 

Letter from the Mayor

Dear Washingtonians,

Last week, I had to deliver some devastating news about our public schools.

After allegations surfaced about graduation irregularities at our comprehensive high schools, I promised to immediately get to the bottom of what happened at Ballou and ensure the integrity of DC Public Schools (DCPS). 

To do this, we:

  • commissioned a third party investigation with a private firm, overseen by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE),
  • followed the facts as they became available,
  • publicly presented the facts,
  • held those responsible for wrongdoings accountable, and
  • set a clear and deliberate course to fix what is broken.

The OSSE investigation revealed poor student attendance, a culture of graduating students despite poor attendance, training and technology failures within DCPS, and pressure to pass students in order to meet or exceed graduation goals. Misapplied policies and a desire to help our most disadvantaged students led to a series of failures we must now overcome.

Our Progress

These findings are indeed startling, and fixing what got us here is my top priority. But as we move forward, we cannot ignore or discount the real progress our schools and students have made. In the last ten years:

  • DCPS was recognized as the fastest improving urban school district in the country based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP);
  • we made unprecedented investments in the backbone of our system – our teachers;
  • after years of enrollment decline, families are once again choosing our public schools;
  • the transformation of our school buildings and learning facilities have ensured our students have the schools and resources they deserve;
  • we expanded STEM and extracurricular offerings at our middle schools, setting more students up for success in high school; and
  • by switching to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam, we have improved how we are preparing our students for success after high school.

There is no debating that our reforms and these accomplishments are the result of a renewed focus on our students that began in 2007 when we made DCPS an executive agency with Council oversight. And, today, we know there is much more work to do.

Regaining Your Trust

As we confront our challenges, I want to be very clear that we will not tolerate any forms of cheating in our school system. When this occurs, it jeopardizes our students, our taxpayers, and our future as a city.

The immediate actions that we have taken to restore faith in our school system include:

  • appointing a Chief Integrity Officer at DCPS;
  • holding members of DCPS leadership accountable for attendance/grading and school-level failures; and
  • referring the investigative reports to the DC Inspector General for additional evaluation, with a commitment to do the same for any future allegations of impropriety that we receive.

Information on other upcoming changes, including updates to the DCPS grading and credit recovery policies and the implementation of end-of-course assessments for core courses by school year 2022, can be found at attendance.dc.gov.

But we won’t stop there: Beginning with the Class of 2018, we are working to ensure that every DCPS diploma has the value that our students deserve. DCPS is already in the process of conducting comprehensive reviews of student transcripts and ensuring that schools have support systems and aligned accountability systems to properly follow attendance, grading, and credit recovery policies this semester. This will inevitably lead to some tough conversations with our students and families. Seniors will be informed whether they are on track to graduate, and if not, what options they have. We want every student to succeed, and we will have the appropriate supports in place to help them do so.

Starting at Ballou, DCPS will host resource fairs to connect more students and families to the supports they need to be successful in school, including on attendance. We want to hear directly from students about what obstacles they face so that we can help them overcome those challenges. And, going forward, it is critical that we continually instill in our students that there is nothing more important to me, you, or our city than their individual success.

I want to assure you that my resolve to do what is right for our young people has never been stronger. Together, we will continue to have the courage to improve and put more students on a path to success. For our students and their families, the best is yet to come.


Muriel Bowser
Our Schools