Children with Special Needs, need Parents with Special Skills!
February 2019
Update: DC's New School Discipline Law

Last spring, DC City Council passed the Student Fair Access to School Amendment Act of 2018 (SFASA). Several parts of the SFASA went into effect on August 25, 2018, while other parts will go into effect later in school years 2019 and 2020. 

Important parts of the law now in effect that families should know include:
  • Students in grades kindergarten to 5 cannot receive an out-of-school suspension for longer than five (5) consecutive school days for a single incident.
  • Students in grades 6 to 12 cannot receive an out-of-school suspension for longer than ten (10) consecutive school days for a single incident.
  • Students regardless of grade cannot receive more than twenty (20) cumulative school days of out-of-school suspension during a school year unless the head of the school provides written justification to the student and parent describing why exceeding 20 days is more appropriate than alternative responses.
All students are entitled to a hearing before they are excluded from school for  6 days or more, unless there is an emergency that justifies removing the student prior to a hearing. Also, if a student who has an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan is going to be suspended for more than 10 school days, SFASA makes it clear that schools must consider all of the student's disabilities when considering if the student's conduct is a result of the student's disability.  This is called a Manifestation Determination Review (or an MDR). 

To learn more about Manifestation Determination Reviews,  SFASA, and your other rights, check out our  know your rights handouts here .
DC Council Oversight and Budget Hearings

Did you know that you can testify at the Council about your experiences as a parent or a student attending a public school in DC? How do think that your school is doing with Special Education? Has the Student Fair Access to School Act been implemented at your school?   

This is an important way for the DC Council to know what is actually happening in schools. You can sign up here  and we can help you write your testimony, and print it too!   

The Performance Oversight Hearing on the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is  Thursday, February 21st at 10:00am in room 412.  The Performance Oversight Hearing on the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is on Tuesday, February 26th at 12:00pm in room 500.  All of the hearings are held at the Wilson Building located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW.  

AJE staff members will be at most of the hearings, so let us know if you plan to testify and we can be there to support you.    

If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. The record typically closes 10 business days after each hearing. Written statements can be emailed to Ashley Strange, Committee Assistant, at or mailed to the following address:

Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on Education
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 116
Washington, DC 20004


We are really excited to share that we are moving to an online calendar!

The first events are already posted on our home page. Take a look here  to see what's coming up next. Just click on the events tab at the top of the page. We also will be adding community and partner events to the online calendar to help keep you informed. 

We are also excited to share that we now have 4 standing monthly trainings here at our office designed to increase parent's knowledge about their rights and navigating both the education and health systems. You can RSVP to those trainings, and our other trainings, here.  The trainings we are offering on a standing basis are:

  • Effective Advocacy for Parents - This workshop provides participates with information on defining advocacy, how to improve advocacy skills, and how parent advocacy can lead to better educational outcomes and even systemic changes.  AJE will offer this session on Effective Advocacy for Parents every odd-numbered month (January, March, May, July, September, November) on the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 3:30pm to 5:00 pm.
  • IEP Workshop Series - Understanding the different parts of an IEP.  Participants will receive a brief overview of the Special Education Process and will review the different parts of the IEP and their role in their child's education.  Other sessions will go into more detail about different parts of the IEP document and process.  This IEP Workshop Series will be held every 4th Tuesday of the month from 5:00 pm to 6:30pm, with a different focus every month.   This workshop has a section that is designed to simulate real-life IEP meetings and families can bring their students' IEP to the workshop, however we cannot provide individual assistance and consultations at the workshops. 
  • Special Education Process  - This training is designed to give parents an overview of federal and local special education laws.  AJE will offer this session on the Special Education Process every even-numbered month (February, April, June, August, October, December) on the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 3:30 to 5:00 pm.
  • Supporting Children with Special Health Care Needs - This training is part of a monthly series of trainings for parents of children with special health care needs.  Parents will gain the skills they need to access education and health supports for their children. AJE will offer this series on the last Wednesday of the month from 3:30pm to 5:00pm.
Of course, we are still able to come to your school or community group to do trainings, so please continue to request those too!  
To request a training please send an email to   with the subject line - Training Request.

It is important that you and your child are up-to-date on all your vaccines, including the flu shot. The flu shot is especially important for older adults, the very young, and those with chronic health conditions, like asthma.

DC Law requires each student attending a DC public school or public charter school to present a valid written immunization certification, documenting that he or she has been successfully immunized in accordance with current Department of Health immunization requirements, to his/her school prior to the first day of classes.

Unless you obtain a medical or religious exemption, DC law requires your child to receive immunizations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, mumps, measles, rubella, polio, Haemophilus influenza type (Hib), hepatitis B, and varicella in order to attend school. Students in grades 6-12 are also required to receive a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine or submit an opt-out form, which is available from your school nurse. 

Visit OSSE's  or the DC Department of Health's websites to learn more.
LEAP Awardees   

AJE's Life Enrichment Awards Program (LEAP) supported by a grant from the   HSC Foundation, supports transition-aged youth and young adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses to achieve their post-high school goals. This year we are excited to announce our LEAP awardees - Kayla Jackson, Carmen Lagos and Jhoana Miranda.  

Each awardee received a laptop computer to aid in their transition planning and implementation.

Kayla Jackson 
Kayla has plans to attend college and major in early childhood education.
Jhoana Miranda 
Jhoana hopes to study marine biology and wants to use her laptop to research colleges, and find job and volunteer opportunities.
Carmen Lagos  
Carmen wants to work with animals after graduation and will use her laptop to research jobs and internship opportunities.

Congratulations to Kayla, Carmen and Jhoana!!
We heart you & want you to take care of your heart!

We hope that you had a happy Valentine's Day! 

We at AJE appreciate all the families we work with and want you to have many more great Valentine's Days. That's why we are reminding you to take care of your heart! Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, about 1 in every 4 female deaths are due to heart disease.  

Many families come to AJE seeking support for their children; we want to remind you that taking care of yourself is also important!

According to the CDC you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease by
  • Knowing your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it's important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
  • Talking to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your chances of heart disease.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.
  • Make healthy food choices. Being overweight and obese raises your risk of heart disease.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day.
  • Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.
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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