Key Takeaways from the SBOE

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Key Takeaways from the SBOE

January 2019

3 kids

2019 began with the swearing-in of returning member Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3), as well as three new members, Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), Zachary Parker (Ward 5), and Jessica Sutter (Ward 6). At the January public meeting, Ward 3 Representative Ruth Wattenberg was elected president and Ward 8 Representative Markus Batchelor was elected vice president. SBOE members considered a staff report summarizing public recommendations related to teacher and principal retention. The SBOE voted to appoint Serena Hayes as the new Ombudsman for Public Education. Additionally, SBOE honored 2019 DCPS Principal of the Year Maisha Riddlesprigger and recognized National School Choice Week, which was held January 20–26, 2019.

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 on education issues at our monthly public meetings. Call us at (202) 741-0888 or email us at to find out how!

**Please note that due to winter break for many District schools, we will hold our next monthly public meeting on Wednesday, February 27, 2019.**

2019 SBOE Members

Ruth Wattenberg
President, Ward 3

Markus Batchelor
Vice President, Ward 8

Ashley MacLeay
Emily Gasoi
Ward 1
Jack Jacobson 
Ward 2
Frazier O’Leary
Ward 4
Zachary Parker
Ward 5
Jessica Sutter
Ward 6
Karen Williams
Ward 7

Contact the SBOE

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

(202) 741-0888 (TTY:221)


SBOE Public Meeting January 2019

SBOE public meeting January 2019

At our public meeting, SBOE members elected Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) president and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8) vice president. Both members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their roles.

Ms. Wattenberg is a parent, school activist, education reformer, education policy wonk, and 30-year resident of the District of Columbia. She was elected as the Ward 3 member of the State Board in November 2014 and re-elected in November 2018. Mr. Batchelor is the Ward 8 Representative and the youngest-ever elected member of the State Board, where he has represented over 16,000 K–12 students across 44 school communities since he was elected in 2016 at age 23.

Teacher & Principal Retention

State Board members voted to accept a report outlining prospective recommendations related to its work on teacher and principal retention. Feedback from our public forum in November 2018 and online survey was compiled by staff into four general recommendations for the State Board to consider:

  • ensuring the District is collecting full data on teachers, principals, and school leaders;
  • establishing non-salary-based incentives for teachers to stay;
  • building models that empower teachers and provide for distributed leadership; and
  • reducing the emphasis on high-stakes testing.

View the report here.

ESSA Task Force

ESSA Task Force January 2019

ESSA Task Force January 2019

At the sixteenth meeting of the ESSA Task Force, members dedicated meeting time to a discussion of the recently released DC school report cards with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), before breaking into three committees to discuss a proposed plan to develop a final set of recommendations that the Task Force will deliver to the DC State Board of Education in June 2019.

Ms. Donna Johnson, OSSE’s director of accountability, provided an update on her agency’s data collection efforts, community outreach, and other next steps concerning the ongoing development of the DC school report card. Over 26,000 unique users have accessed since its December 2018 launch. OSSE has a team that monitors feedback and responds to questions and comments sent to a dedicated email address: OSSE is also in the process of aggregating feedback received from school and LEA leaders, community organizations, and public meetings held across the city. Now is your chance to provide feedback on the school report website by filling out OSSE’s online survey.

The ESSA Task Force meets next on Tuesday, February 12, 2018. The task force meeting will be streamed live via Periscope for those community members who are unable to attend in person. For more information on the work of the task force and copies of minutes and video recordings, please visit

- OSSE Resource Page for Parents

- DC School Report Card Overview (English)
- DC School Report Card Overview (Spanish)
- DC School Report Card Detailed Walk Through
- STAR Framework Overview (Spanish)
- STAR Framework Overview (English)

Meet Serena Hayes, Your New Ombudsman for Public Education

Serena Hayes Ceremonial Resolution

Serena Hayes honored with ceremonial resolution at January public meeting

After an extensive search process, SBOE announced the selection of Serena Hayes as the next District of Columbia Ombudsman for Public Education. Ms. Hayes is the third person to serve as the District of Columbia’s Ombudsman for Public Education, succeeding Joyanna Smith. The position was originally established as a critical component of the Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 and was reestablished as part of the State Board in 2014. The Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education is an impartial, independent, and neutral office that uses mediation and conflict resolution to resolve complaints and concerns for parents and families regarding public education in the District of Columbia.

Ms. Hayes, a resident of Ward 5, is a graduate of the Howard University Law School and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, and anthropology from Washington and Lee University. Ms. Hayes has coached individuals and groups on conflict resolution strategies, and empowered families in developing self-awareness, and in finding and using their voice. She has provided training across the District in conflict management and has provided re-entry mediation services at the D.C. Jail. She received the 2017 Lorig Charkoudian Volunteer of the Year award for commitment to mediation, for exemplifying quality in the delivery of mediation, and dedication to furthering her mediation skills. Ms. Hayes also facilitated large group discussion for the consent decree issued after the death of Freddie Gray, where listening sessions were held for Baltimoreans to generate criteria that would be used to monitor police conduct and improve the relationship between police and the city residents.

Ms. Hayes was appointed to her new role at the January public meeting for a term of five years, beginning on January 22, 2019.

Office of the Student Advocate Update

OSA Ward 8 Safe Passage Event 1

Ward 8 Safe Passage event

Ward 8 Safe Passage Working Group
The Office of the Student Advocate (OSA), in partnership with Markus Batchelor (DC State Board of Education Vice President and Ward 8 Representative), has committed to strengthening safe passage efforts in Ward 8. By bringing together education, health and safety, and community leaders, OSA facilitated the working group session to deepen discussion on how to address and take action regarding the community violence that is impacting students, schools, and the health and well-being of the community.

Safe Passage Toolkit
This toolkit, designed to support the needs of students, families, and educators, is a collection of resources focused on student safety and safe passage tips, tools, curricula, and national best practices. By placing all of these resources in one helpful toolkit, students, families, and educators will have access to vital supports in order promote the safety of our students in all spaces as they travel throughout the District. OSA’s Safe Passage Community Resource Toolkit is available online.

For more information about the office’s upcoming events or resource supports, call 202-741-4692, email, or visit their website at

Ward 8 Safe Passage Event 2

Ward 8 Safe Passage event

Student Advisory Committee Update

The Student Advisory Committee (SAC), led by Student Representatives Tatiana Robinson and Marjoury Alicea, continued their discussions related to teacher and principal retention in January. The SAC is working to finalize the topics for their yearly report. Their next meeting will be held on February 4, 2019. All District of Columbia high school students are welcome to join the SAC.

For more information on work of the Student Advisory Committee, visit

January Ceremonial Resolutions

DCPS Principal of the Year
The State Board issued a ceremonial resolution honoring 2019 DCPS Principal of the Year Maisha Riddlesprigger of Ketcham Elementary School in Ward 8. Ms. Riddlesprigger is a ten-year veteran of DCPS; she started out at Davis Elementary School before taking over at Ketcham ES six years ago. Under her leadership, Ketcham’s enrollment has increased and the school has seen dramatic gains in student achievement on statewide exams. Ketcham ES was the highest-rated DCPS elementary school in Ward 8 in 2018.

The State Board is proud to recognize Ms. Riddlesprigger’s hard work on behalf of Ketcham Elementary School and the Ward 8 community.

National School Choice Week
National School Choice Week is a non-partisan initiative that seeks to raise awareness of K–12 education options available to students in the United States. National School Choice Week recognizes all K–12 options, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling, and this year was held from January 20 through 26, 2019.

DCPS Principal of the Year ceremonial resolution January 2019

Maisha Riddlesprigger honored as 2019 DCPS Principal of the Year

Portrait of a Student

State Board members heard an expert panel highlight ways to develop a District student profile and methods for identifying basic skills and knowledge needed to succeed in school. The SBOE thanks Kim R. Ford, Consultant, Jobs For the Future; Don Long, education policy advocate; Sanjay Mitchell, Director of College & Alumni Programs, Thurgood Marshall Academy; and Dr. Erin Bibo, Deputy Chief, College & Career Programs at DC Public Schools (DCPS) for sharing their insights.

Portrait of a Student Panel

Portrait of a Student panel January 2019

2018 Annual Report

Annual Report 2018

In 2018, the State Board continued to expand its footprint in education policy development in the District by building stronger partnerships with families and students, providing unvarnished and vital research on education issues, and by expanding the breadth and depth of community involvement in state-level education policy. From improvements to high school graduation requirements to helping develop the first tool for direct school-to-school comparison across sectors, the State Board was there.

Read the 2018 Annual Report

Make Your Voice Heard on the DCPS Chancellor

Two public roundtables will be held to discuss the nomination of Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee as Chancellor of DC Public Schools. Members of the public are encouraged to sign up to testify to make their voice heard. These roundtables are being co-hosted by Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember David Grosso of the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on Education.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus
1200 Clifton St. NW, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
John A. Wilson Building, Room 412
1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 2 p.m.

SBOE School Visit to Langley Elementary School

Langley Elementary School Visit 2019

Langley Elementary School visit January 2019

Earlier this month, Langley Elementary School Principal Vanessa Drumm-Canepa and PTSA President Christina Svolopoulos Robbins welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg, Ashley MacLeay, Jessica Sutter, and SBOE staff to tour their school. Langley ES is a PK–5 neighborhood DCPS school with approximately 300 students, located in the District’s Northeast neighborhood of Eckington in Ward 5.

Our blog post highlights how the administration has transformed Langley ES in the past two and a half years through the implementation of a social-emotional learning (SEL) program called Conscious Discipline.

Read the Blog Post

Nominate Your Favorite Teacher for 2020 DC Teacher of the Year!

OSSE is searching for the 2020 DC Teacher of the Year, calling for nominations for outstanding teachers who:

  • Inspire and accelerate growth for all students
  • Build strong partnerships with families and communities
  • Champion the teaching profession

Find the 2020 DC TOY Nomination Form here. Nomination window: Feb. 1-March 15, 2019.

Also, check out other ways to nominate awesome teachers for the 2019 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and the 2019 DC History Teacher of the Year.

Questions? Please contact

February SAC Meeting

February Working Session

February ESSA Task Force Meeting

February Public Meeting