Key Takeaways from the SBOE

District of Columbia State Board of Education

Key Takeaways Newsletter

September 2018

Back to School Updates

In September, State Board members attended back-to-school night events at DCPS and public charter schools, listened to community members share their thoughts on the DCPS chancellor search, and welcomed a public panel on safe passage at our public meeting. Our student representatives, Tatiana Robinson and Marjoury Alicea, were officially sworn in to their positions and they held the first Student Advisory Committee meeting of the 2018–19 school year. In addition, our ESSA Task Force was back in action diving into the school report card design set to debut in December 2018.

Engage with your State Board members on the issues that affect you the most. All students, parents, educators, and community members are invited to provide testimony at our monthly public meetings. Call us (202) 741-0888 or email to find out more!

*October 24 Public Meeting at John A. Wilson Building*
Please note that the upcoming October SBOE public meeting will be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month—October 24, 2018. This is a change from the regularly scheduled third Wednesday of every month. Additionally, the meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW due to the upcoming election.

2018 SBOE Members

Karen Williams
President, Ward 7
Jack Jacobson 
Vice President, Ward 2
Ashley MacLeay
Laura Wilson Phelan
Ward 1
Ruth Wattenberg
Ward 3
Ward 4
Mark Jones
Ward 5
Joe Weedon
Ward 6
Markus Batchelor
Ward 8

Contact the SBOE 

441 4th Street NW
Suite 530S
Washington, DC 20001

(202) 741-0888 (TTY:221)

DCPS Chancellor Search

DME Briefs State Board on DCPS Chancellor Search
Interim Deputy Mayor for Education Ahnna Smith briefs State Board members on DCPS chancellor search at September working session

At this month’s working session, Interim Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Ahnna Smith spoke to State Board members about the ongoing search for the new District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) chancellor. Mayor Bowser launched the search process earlier this summer, appointing the Our Schools Leadership Committee (OSLC) to advise her on the selection and hold community meetings to gather information from residents. Interim Deputy Mayor Smith shared feedback from the recently conducted chancellor search community forums and asked State Board members for their thoughts on the process and the qualities needed in a successful chancellor candidate. The goal of the OSLC is to serve as an advisory body that ensures that the feedback the mayor receives from the community is collected in a balanced, thorough, and equitable way. You can watch the lively discussion on our YouTube page.

On September 18, the SBOE, including the student representatives and Student Advisory Committee, urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to make certain that any candidate for chancellor of DCPS possess six qualities. Many of the SBOE recommended qualities have been echoed in community forums and meetings across the District. The SBOE wants every student to be valued and have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens.

The summary of recommended qualities for the mayor to consider when selecting the next chancellor was sent in a letter to Bowser. The selected candidate must be insightful and proactive, committed to analyzing and sharing data with the public, committed to incorporating public trust from families, willing to innovate, capable and committed to championing DCPS, and focused on building relationships and rebuilding trust.

The SBOE looks forward to working with the Deputy Mayor for Education’s office and the Our Schools Leadership Committee as they work on synthesizing findings and recommendations prior to the selection.

Read the Letter  

#DCSafeRoutes Safe Passage Panel

Safe Passage Panel
Chandrai Jackson-Saunders, DCPS School Psychologist, Shacora Simmons, DCPS Parent, and Vennetta Hamilton, DCPS Parent testify at September public meeting

As the new school year progresses, education stakeholders across the District continue to devise ways to improve safety for students traveling to and from school. At this month’s public meeting, we heard from experts, education advocates, school counselors, and parents on some of the biggest challenges District students face in getting to and from school safely. Organizations are working diligently every day to promote safe passage and inform community members about what they can do to help this process.

Our first panel featured Chief Student Advocate Faith Gibson Hubbard and Dan Davis, Student Advocate. Ms. Gibson Hubbard and Mr. Davis defined safe passage as “a student’s journey to school, their movement within school, and how they navigate their way home from school.” Reviewing statistics, it was noted that requests for assistance to the Office of the Student Advocate for help with student safety issues declined by 50 percent from SY16–17 to SY17–18. The types of student safety issues that were reported include violence, bullying, criminalized conduct, and transportation. Community members who need assistance can access the Office of the Student Advocate’s Safe Passage Resource Toolkit online, which was designed to create and sustain the safe passage of our students and communities based on the “6 E’s” from National Safe Routes to School: education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, evaluation, and equity.

The second expert panel included Inspector Michael Coligan, School Safety Division, MPD; Dr. Marco Clark, CEO, Richard Wright PCS; and Chalon Jones, Program Analyst, Deputy Mayor for Education (DME). Inspector Coligan shared information on how the Metropolitan Police Department deploys school resource officers on a daily basis to help students get to and from school. During dismissal, these student resource officers travel to specific safe passage routes where students congregate around bus stops and metro stations. Dr. Clark talked about how Richard Wright PCS utilizes community organizations to partner on safe passage and how his staff and volunteers collectively assist students at local bus stops and metro stations.

Ms. Jones shared information on the School Safety and Safe Passage Working Group, which is a collection of District agencies, police officers, and transit officials working together to collaborate with schools in high-priority areas. Working group members host safe passage events with government and community partners, as well as identify additional areas that need support based on crime data and stakeholder input. The DME’s office will next be collecting and analyzing responses of a District-wide Safe Passage Survey.

Our third panel featured school psychologist Chandrai Jackson-Saunders and parents Shacora Simmons and Vennetta Hamilton, all from Garfield Elementary School. Ms. Simmons testified in front of State Board members regarding ongoing challenges their students face and a request for additional traffic lights and improved communication regarding school safety resources.

All presentations can be viewed on our information-sharing site.

Watch the Discussion

Student Advisory Committee Begins Work for this Year

Student Representatives 2018 Swearing in
Marjoury Alicea (Capital City PCS) and Tatiana Robinson (Ballou High School) pictured during swearing-in ceremony

With State Board members present—and parents, teachers, and students looking on in support—both Tatiana Robinson and Marjoury Alicea were sworn in this month for their official duties as student representatives to the State Board! You can view the swearing-in ceremonies on our YouTube page.

As co-chairs of our Student Advisory Committee, Tatiana and Marjoury welcomed 18 new members on September 17 to the first meeting of the year. During the meeting, Ward 6 Representative Joe Weedon spoke about legislation currently before the DC Council that would lower the age for voting in local elections to 16. Mr. Weedon and guests from Vote16DC provided information about their work to promote the effort. The remainder of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the selection of the new DCPS chancellor. Student Representative Tatiana Robinson has been selected as a member of the Our Schools Leadership Committee.   

Joe Weedon Talks with SAC
Ward 6 Representative Joe Weedon speaks with SAC at September meeting

SAC Info Page 

ESSA Task Force Update

Members of ESSA Task Force at September meeting
Members of the ESSA Task Force at September meeting

SBOE President, Ward 7 Representative, and ESSA Task Force Chair Karen Williams welcomed back members from summer break on September 11, reviewing progress made from the launch of the task force in August 2017 and highlighting goals for the team moving forward. President Williams took over as the new chairperson of the task force following Dr. Lannette Woodruff’s resignation from the State Board in July of this year.

Representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) provided an update on the second phase of its engagement efforts on the proposed design of the new citywide school report card. During this phase, OSSE heard from over 2,200 education stakeholders via both in-person meetings and online surveys. The team from OSSE gave kudos to the ESSA Task Force and their community-based partners for their dedication and engagement in this work! Four main themes of report card feedback were layout and organization, terminology, definitions, and word choice. As a result of community feedback, a STAR Rating will make the report cards a helpful tool for families, giving them a comparable look into every public school in the District. The STAR Rating will be included on both the School Profile page and STAR Rating pages, but not in the report card header (as previously suggested).

The new school report card will give families a view of every DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools in the District. OSSE debuted an "At a Glance" draft with the task force and a lively Q&A ensued enabling task force members to provide specific feedback.

September Monthly Meeting Video Recording
September Meeting Twitter Thread
September Meeting Presentation Slides

OSSE’s Draft Report Card Mock-up (Presented to ESSA Task Force September 11)
OSSE 2018-19 DC School Report Card and STAR Framework Technical Guide
OSSE School Report Card Site

At-a-Glance Report Card Draft
At-a-Glance Report Card Draft presented to ESSA Task Force at September meeting

ESSA Info Page

Student Advocate Updates Parent & Family Go-To Guide

Go-To Guide

The Office of the Student Advocate recently released a new edition of their Parent & Family Go-To Guide, which is a collection of resources designed to help families in navigating the public education system in DC. The guide includes six new information sheets on bullying, graduation, discipline, and Pre-K3/Pre-K4 enrollment.

Previous editions of the guide have included over 75 questions families and students can ask to initiate conversations with schools about achievement/testing, behavior, enrollment, response to intervention, and special education. The guide also defines relevant terms and explains the laws and processes regarding attendance, excused absences, homelessness, PARCC scores, and tardiness.

The Parent & Family Go-To Guide is available in print and online. For more information about the office’s work, you can call the office at (202) 741-4692, email at, or visit their website

Go-To Guide

SBOE Honors Dr. Lannette Woodruff

Lannette Woodruff Swearing-in January 2017
Dr. Woodruff being sworn in to office by Councilmember Brandon T. Todd in January 2017

During this month’s September public meeting, we honored the service of Dr. Lannette Woodruff. Dr. Woodruff was elected in 2016 to the DC State Board of Education as the Ward 4 representative and served as the chair of the SBOE’s ESSA Task Force beginning in 2017. She spearheaded a team that attended the U.S. Department of Education's Family Engagement Summit in Baltimore, MD last spring. At the Summit, the team presented a proposal that outlined ways to amplify parent power and inform families in Wards 7 and 8 about the ESSA plan and the new school report cards that will debut in the District later this year. Dr. Woodruff was a fierce advocate for excellence and equity in education in the District of Columbia, and a true champion for the students of Ward 4.

Read the Resolution

SBOE in the Community

At-Large member Ashley MacLeay at Stokes
At-Large Representative Ashley MacLeay joins District officials and community members at the grand opening of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom PCS - East End

This September, State Board members celebrated with students, parents, teachers, and school leaders at back-to-school events around the District and sought feedback on the DCPS chancellor search!

  • Laura (Ward 1) listened to parent feedback during the Ward 1 DCPS chancellor forum.
  • Joe (Ward 6) welcomed the new members of the Student Advisory Committee to their first meeting of the year.
  • Markus (Ward 8) thanked the school counselor and parents from Garfield Elementary School for testifying on safe passage at our public meeting.
  • Ashley (At-Large) celebrated with community members at the grand opening of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom PCS – East End.

If you have an upcoming event that you would like State Board members or staff to attend, please let us know directly via email or phone to coordinate!

Read the Blog Post 

Upcoming Meetings

October 1 Student Advisory Committee

October 3 Working Session

October 9 ESSA Task Force

October 24 Public Meeting