Children with Special Needs, need Parents with Special Skills!
Fall 2016

AJE's Community Forum Brings Together Parents, Students, School Staff and Legislators

The 7 th annual  National Week of Action Against School Pushout kicked off October 15 th.  Over 100 organizations in more than 40 cities across the country held rallies, marches, forums and workshops to raise awareness to #EndSchoolPushout and to launch and support local campaigns to transform and #RethinkDiscipline.  

On Tuesday, October 18 th Advocates for Justice and Education hosted a local Week of Action event bringing together elected officials (including Education Committee Chair, Councilmember David Grosso and DC Attorney General Karl Racine), students, parents, administrators and community members to discuss the implementation of restorative justice in schools and beyond.  Our diverse panel shared compelling stories about the power of restorative justice to transform lives and resolve conflict.  You can follow the conversation on Twitter. To express your support for funding restorative justice District-wide contact us at to sign on to our  AJE's community letter to DC Council.  

T o learn more about School Discipline in the District come out to AJE's workshop on School Discipline-What You NEED to Know on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm at our offices (25 E Street, NW). RSVP to

2016 State of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS)

The conversation on restorative justice continued at the 2016 DCPS State of Schools at Roosevelt  High School on October 18th.  In addition to restorative justice, the hour long event highlighted several exciting and innovative programs being implemented in DCPS including global education, business development, and Leading Men Fellowship.  

Fall Check-in with Your Child's School

This is a great time of year to take a moment and think about how the school year is going and if any changes need to be made.  School has been underway for about 8 weeks, and for many students, almost 3 months, so students and families have had a chance to get used to the new school year and get to know each other.  Teachers have had an opportunity to learn where their new students are academically and emotionally, and have begun to understand what helps them learn, and what might be standing in the way of a great school year.
So now is a great time to touch base with your child's classroom teachers and see if there need to be any adjustments.  It your student has an IEP or 504 plan, take a moment to review their plan and ask yourself if you think they are on track to meet their goals and if you don't think so, ask for a meeting to discuss what changes might need to be made.  Ask yourself if the accommodations they have are working.  Check in with your student too, and see how they feel about the school year.
Also, if you have worried that your child has a disability, now is a great time to discuss that with the school, now that everyone has gotten to know each other and settled in for the year.  

Nurses in DC Public Schools:

The structure of how schools in DC are provided with nursing service is changing.    The current contract for school nurses will expire in January 2017.  A new plan will provide what is effectively one part time nurse per public school in DC.  This plan would apply to both DCPS Schools and Public Charter Schools. The previous model had a required minimum of one full-time nurse in every school.  
According in a statement issued September 30, 2016 by the Department of Health, the new program will improve outcomes for students by better linking school and community resources, despite having fewer nurses in school buildings.  This new plan will provide care coordination and community navigation services in schools, so that students and families can access services appropriate healthcare services in about out of school.  These additional new services will improve partnerships with the school and families while linking students to appropriate health care in the community.
Specific information about what these changes mean for individual schools will be shared with the community in November 2016.  
If you have questions about these proposed changes, you can contact the Department of Health at or call 202-442-9411 or at the OSSE and DOH.

Asthma: The Leading Cause of Absenteeism

Fall and Winter are the worst seasons for children with asthma because they are exposed to more respiratory viruses, frequent air temperature changes and indoor allergens.  Parents and schools working together can play important role in helping students manage asthma at school.  
Part of effective asthma management is the creation of an action plan for school and at home.  This action plan should include daily management guidelines and emergency steps in case of an asthma episode.  The plan should describe the student's medical
infor mation and specific steps for responding to worsening asthma symptoms.  Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.  The asthma action plan should include a list of medications the student receives and dispensing requirements, a specific plan of action for school staff, identified triggers, and emergency procedures.   The student should be also understand their plan and know how to access care if they need it.  

Congratulations to AJE's LEAP Awardees

Meet one of our awardees: 14-year old Kendell, a student whose family was supported with AJE services, who was selected to receive one of AJE's LEAP awards for 2016! 

Kendell wants to be a graphic artist and wishes to use his award (a new laptop) to practice his design skills and learn more about IT.  (He thinks he may want to have his own business too!) Kendell has a lot of big dreams, and after a month with his new laptop, he has figured out all the programs and is creating and designing. His mom says he practically sleeps with it.  Thank you to the HSC Foundation who sponsors the LEAP Awards (Life Enrichment Awards Program supporting youth and young adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses in the Washington, DC area as they transition to adulthood).

Keeping Students Healthy - FLU SHOTS

This is an optimum time for parents and children to get vaccinated against influenza (the  flu).   Flu season is now upon us, and the single best way to protect against influenza is to get vaccinated.  For more information, visit the CDC's website on influenza at
Other ways to prevent the spread of cold and  flu germs include:
  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching nose, eyes, and mouth to prevent spreading germs.
  • Practice good health habits--eat healthy foods, get adequate sleep, drink plenty of fluids.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
Stay home if sic k with  flu -like symptoms until fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.

Looking for ways to get a flu  shot? Here is a list of  upcoming flu shot clinics , and local stores that give flu shots:
The KIDS Mobile Medical Clinic (supporte d by Ronald McDonald Care Mobile and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital) gives  FREE  flu   shots  to anyone under 19 year of age who has Medicaid or no insurance.  People can call (202) 444-8888  to schedule an appointment with the mobile clinic.  The Georgetown University HOYA Clinic gives free  flu  shots  to anyone - on a walk-in basis out of DC General Family Emergency Shelter on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. 

DC Public School Lottery and EdFest Just Around the Corner!

DC residents have many public school options. 
My School DC , in partnership with DCPS and the majority of DC public charter schools, makes it easier for families to take advantage of these choices. My School DC  is the common application and common lottery for all DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the majority of public charter schools. Families should apply through My School DC if they have a child(ren) that will be a NEW student at a:
  • Participating public charter school (PK3-12)
  • DCPS out-of-boundary school or citywide school (PK3-12)
  • PK3 or PK4 program at any DCPS school, including their in-boundary school
  • DCPS selective citywide high school (9-12)
The deadlines for the school year 2017-18 lottery are: February 1, 2017 (grades 9-12), and March 1, 2017 (grades PK3-8).  More information 
Families are also encouraged to attend EdFEST (a citywide public school fair) on December 10, 11:00am-3:00pm at DC Armory (2001 E Capitol St SE).
Questions? Contact the My School DC Hotline at  (202) 888-6336 or email:

Attendance: Both Important and the Law!

School attendance is important for student success, but it is also the law, and in DC there are very real legal consequences for students and their families when students don't attend school without a valid excuse! 
School Attendance is mandatory in DC for students who will 5 on or before September 30 of the current school until they are 18 or graduate from high school?  Under DC law, students between 5 and 13 years old who have 10 or more unexcused absences within a school year MUST be referred to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) for possible action.  The law also REQUIRES that students between 14 and 17 years old who have 15 or more unexcused absences be referred to court for possible legal action against them and their parents.  In addition to CFSA or Court involvement, students may lose their seat at competitive schools, or in out of boundary school placements. 
Did you know that absences are only excused if they are on the school's list of acceptable excuses?   A parent or guardian's permission is not enough to make an absence excused!   Generally, student's illness or medical/dental appointments, death in the family, religious holidays and mandatory court appearances are considered excused, but the parent must provide the documentation to the school within 5 days, or the absence will be considered unexcused, regardless of why the student missed school.  

Upcoming Trainings & Programs at AJE

AJE provides monthly trainings and workshops for parents and professionals in navigating special education systems and supports.  Check out these upcoming events (all held at our offices at: 25 E Street, NW):

School Discipline: What You Need to Know
Wed, Oct 26, 5:30-7:00pm

Educational Surrogate Parent Information Session (co-sponsored by OSSE) - this rewarding program recruits volunteers to act as surrogate parents for DC students in the IEP process
Thu, Oct 27, 4:30-6:00pm 

Lunch & Learn Public Policy Forum: Kids & Mental Health Services in DC (co-sponsored by Disability Rights DC at ULS)
Mon, Nov 7, 12:00-1:30pm,  Learn more

RSVP for any of these sessions to: and see AJE's monthly training calendar at:

Community Resources, Activities and More!

Morning at the Museum (for children with cognitive and sensory processing disabilities and their families) at the National Air & Space Museum at Udvar Hazy (Dulles Airport), Saturday, Nov 19, 9am-11am,  Learn more and RSVP

Sesame Street Study for Parents of Children with Autism - Parents of children under 6 who have autism can participate!   Learn more  or call: 301-765-5425 offers easy-to-read articles for parents on many subjects and by different grades/ages, including what to look for when visiting schools,

Parents and DC Youth can share what concerns them the most at an upcoming DC Council-Committee on Education Public Roundtable on Nov 2 at 4pm.  

October is National Disability Employment Month - learn more about what youth with disabilities can do  in the workplace and to learn to "work early and work often" to prepare for their futures. 


OSSE Annual Parent Survey - Make Your Voice Heard

DC's Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is required to survey all DC families who have students with IEPs as part of their annual report to the US Department of Education.   Your parent responses help to improve services and results for children and families and can make a difference for special education services in our city. OSSE does not share any  individual information (names, addresses or contact information, etc.) with schools, and your answers are confidential.  You should receive this survey in the mail, but can also complete it online here.  The deadline has been extended to December 5th - so complete this survey today and let your voice be heard! 

Have questions - AJE can help!  Call us at 202-678-8060 or

About AJE:
Advocates for Justice and Education is the federally designated  Parent Training and Information Center and the Health Information Center for DC. AJE seeks to empower families, youth, and the community to be effective advocates to ensure that children and youth, particularly those who have special needs, receive access to appropriate education and health services.
Our passion is empowering families by equipping parents and students with disabilities with the tools they need to be their own advocates.

Have questions?  We are here to educate, advocate and empower. Contact us today!
Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc.| (P) 202.678.8060  | (F) 202.678.8062 |

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