Children with Special Needs, need Parents with Special Skills!
Summer 2019

We hope you are enjoying your summer as much as this puppy seems to be!  

This is our first newsletter from the new office and we have a lot to share!  We have information about - 

Of course, we also share with you the US Department of Education's assessment of DC's special education performance. AJE families will not be surprised to hear that DC "needs assistance" in serving students with disabilities!   You can read more about that here and take a very quick survey about it too!

Finally, we want to thank you for helping us have the outsized impact that we do here at AJE!  Did you know that our staff of six supported parents at 346 meetings or hearings last year? And we trained over 798 parents!  
Save the Date for Padre-a-Padre - Saturday July 20th & 27th! 

We are excited to share that our annual Parent to Parent Leadership Institute for Spanish Speaking families is coming up on Saturday July 20th and 27th!

Families will hear from speakers from Early Stages, DCPS, Marys' Center, the DC Officer for Human Rights and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.  Please share the save the date graphic below, and  for more information see our complete flyer here.  

Parents can register by calling Berta Mata at 202-678-8060 ext 208, or emailing her at

Don't forget you can always see our  upcoming events and trainings  and   latest news online!
Transportation Update! 

As many DC families know from experience, the start of the school year is often challenging for students.  Transportation is frequently one of the things that makes it challenging.  We hope that this blog post gives families some suggestions to make back to school easier, and we share some good news about transportation in DC too!   Want a h int - there's an app for that!   

AJE would love to hear from DC families about your experiences with transportation!  Please consider completing this very short google form and sharing your transportation story today! You can also share this post and link with other DC families!
Federal Update - DC Still Needs Assistance with Special Education.  

The US Department of Education monitors how the states,  including DC, implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)..  The US Department of Education determined last month that DC continues to need assistance meeting their obligations under IDEA. 

AJE families will remember that IDEA is the federal law that creates and funds special education.   State Education Agencies report how Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are performing to the federal government and the federal government in turn tells the State Education Agencies how they are doing according to the data provided.

DC's State Education Agency is OSSE, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.  OSSE aggregates and reports information from all of DC's 50 plus LEAs, which include DCPS and all the charter schools, to the US Department of education.   You can see that data here.

The US Department of Education just issued their evaluation of DC's implementation of IDEA and found that DC continues to need assistance meeting their obligations under IDEA.  Areas where DC did particularly poorly include

Percentage of Children with Disabilities who Dropped Out

Percentage of 8th Grade Children with Disabilities Scoring at Basic or Above on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Reading and Math

Percentage of 4th Grade Children with Disabilities Scoring at Basic or Above on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Reading and Math

DC earned no compliance points in those 5 areas because DC's performance was so poor that it did not achieve the minimum level require to score on the matrix for that area.  "Needs assistance" is an improvement from last year's determination, where OSSE was told that DC "needed intervention" regarding Special Education.  When you look at  last year's result matrix, and  this year's results matrix you see that DC was able to move up from "needs intervention" to "needs assistance" because of improvement in two areas - 

Increasing students with disabilities' participation in the PARC exam from 88% to 93% and 

Increasing the graduation rate for students with disabilities from 54% to 66%.
We were wondering if readers felt that kind of improvement between 2017 to 2018? Do these numbers make sense to you?  Do they feel accurate based on your experiences?  Take our quick survey and let us know!    

Y ou can  read DC's State Performance Plan here , which details how OSSE proposes to remedy these areas of noncompliance.  
AJE Testified at the D.C. Council Committee Joint Hearing on School Transparency

On Wednesday, June 26th, the D.C. Council Committee on Education heard testimony from over 40 public witnesses including  AJE Parent Support Specialist, Chioma Oruh, and  AJE Senior Staff Attorney, Stacey Eunnae on two proposed bills to increase transparency in school budgeting and spending.  

You can read their  testimony here (Chioma) and  here (Stacey), and find out more about the bills below.  Stacey and Chioma both made it clear to the Council that increasing transparency in public education is important for 1) the democratic and public oversight of public education, 2) meaningful parent engagement, 3) student safety and achievement, and 4) accountability for the use of public funds in education.  You can view AJE's entire post about the hearing here  and you can  view the captioned video here.   Links to both Bills and our testimony are below.  

DC Free Summer Meals Program Began on June 17

The District has a Free Summer Meals Program open to all kids and youth under the age of 18. The program makes FREE breakfast and lunch available to all children and youth 18 and younger across the city all summer long.  

The program runs  from June 17 - August 23 These sites serve breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday to any student up to and including age 18.  

Breakfast will be served from 8 - 9:30 am and lunch will be served from 11:30 am - 1 pm.   Children and youth are welcome at any school or site to receive a meal; they do not need to be in a summer school program and they do not need to show ID for a free meal. 

Here is the  full list of DCPS Free Summer Meals  locations.  For additional sites, text FOOD to 877-877, call 1(866) 3-Hungry, or  check out the location map .

Lots of Great New Webinars Added!

We have recently added great new webinars to the Special Education Thursday library, including three webinars that address important health care issues for families. As always, Special Education Thursday host, Molly Whalen, keeps it practical, parent-friendly and positive in these short webinars you can listen to anywhere.   

MEDICAL AND LEGAL FACTS ABOUT VACCINES  Guests: Maria Blaeuer, AJE and Leah Shoval, Mary's Center   


UNDERSTANDING HSCSN AND YOUR RIGHTS AS A FAMILY   Guests: Zenia Sanchez-Fuentes, Attorney, Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP 

We also have a new webinar with a guest from the  Public Charter School Board, Patrick Pope.  Host and AJE board chair Molly and Patrick talked about what happens when a parent calls the PCSB with a complaint or concern.

Finally, we have webinar that starts parents off on the right foot when thinking about long term planning for their children with special health care needs and disabilities.

Also, if there is something you think we should cover, let us know at 202-678-8060 or!
Summer is a Great Time to get that Back to School Paperwork Done!

Remember that your child needs an up-to-date  Universal Health CertificateOral Health Assessment, and  immunizations in order to attend school. Be sure to bring  these forms to their doctor's appointment and then submit to your child's school. Have any questions about these requirements? Connect directly with your child's school.  Don't forget, AJE also has a webinar all about vaccines that might answer your questions.  

Don't have health insurance? Check out  DC Health Link, or the  DC Office of Healthcare Finance to apply for Medicaid programs.  Did you know that in DC Medicaid expansion covers: Adults without Dependent Children (ages 21-64), Children (0-18), Children aged 19-20, Parent/Caretaker Relatives and Pregnant Women?  You might be eligible for coverage and not realize it.  

All of DC's programs to connect uncovered families with health care can be found  here.
Is your child's school closing? Do you have a child who has aged out of their LEA? Here is everything you need to know!

AJE's mission is to increase parents' knowledge of their children's rights within the District of Columbia educational system and to increase school accountability. 

We recently published  a long blog post where we hoped to provide you with all information you will need should you find yourself in one of two positions:
  • your child's LEA has issued a notice of closure, or
  • if you have a child with a disability who attends a non-public school who has reached the maximum age served by the LEA, or whose LEA is closing.
You can find that post with links and related documents on our website.  

Remember, a ll District of Columbia students have a right to choose DCPS to be their LEA and all District of Columbia students also have a right to enroll in any public charter school with open slots in the grade for which they seek admission.  This includes students who are currently attending a nonpublic school whose LEA is closing or who are aging out of their LEA.  

My School DC - post-lottery information

Even though the lottery is over for school year 2019/20, parents may still want to go to My School DC for information and help finding a school.  You can still apply to public and public charter schools for school year 2019/20 at and the  My School DC application is here:
Things to know:
  • You can enroll your child directly at their DCPS in-boundary school for grades K-12 without submitting a My School DC application. Don't know your DCPS in-boundary schools? Find it here!
  • You must submit a My School DC application if you want your child to attend a public PK3 and PK4 program even if it is the program at your DCPS in-boundary elementary school.
Need help applying?   Contact the My School DC Hotline for support at (202) 888-6336. They are open Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm.

We want to thank the amazing donors who have helped us serve DC families and empower DC parents; your support has helped DC students stay in school, learn and thrive all across the District of Columbia!

Individual  Donors

Amanda Borher-Thomas
James Fisher Molly Whalen
April Robinson Jennifer Sauter-Price Patrice Wedderburn
Arianna Scavetti
Karen A. Newton Cole Rochonda Hiligh-Thomas
Brian Tate Katherine Arrington Tara Emory
David Hill
Lara Bollinger Tina Nelson
Elio Trabal
Marci Edwards Todd Miller
Emeka Njoku
Maria Blaeuer Vanita Snow
Jane Brown
Mary & Willie Cook Anonymous Facebook Donors


DC Bar Foundation
Education Forward DC
Meyer Foundation
 Dignity in Schools Campaign 
 (National  Economic & Social Right Initiative)

Pro Bono Partners

Morgan Lewis
Baker Botts

Community Partners & In-Kind Supporters

Association for Positive Behavior Support
Garden Bros. Circus Practising Law Institute (PLI)
Barbara Rutland Harriet Tate

Thank you!!  We appreciate all of our families, supporters and volunteers!

Help our small staff continue to have a big impact for DC families and youth and donate today!

Don't forget to update our contact information!

Our email addresses, fax number & phone numbers remain the same at our  new address, 1200 G Street NW, Suite #725 Washington DC, 20005 .  We are near Metro Center.    
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 |

Help AJE Help Parents - Make a Donation TODAY