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DCPS Responds to DL vs. District of Columbia Ruling | Schools

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DCPS Responds to DL vs. District of Columbia Ruling
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From Frederick Lewis:

District of Columbia Public Schools remains committed to identifying and serving children ages 3-5 in need of special education services.  Despite a ruling this week by a federal judge that says hundreds of children requiring special education services were not sufficiently identified and treated, the school district has made significant progress in identifying young children in need of intervention over the past two years.  

Since the opening of the Early Stages Center in 2009, DCPS has dramatically increased the number of children served – by more than 1,000 per year – and increased the percentage of children ages 3-5 identified as needing special education services from 2.0 percent to 7.4 percent, placing the District 15th among US states. Only eight states have achieved a rate of 8.5 percent, a figure that was identified as the benchmark by the presiding judge in the ruling.

“I am disappointed that the ruling ignores our remarkable progress over the past two years,” says DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “We recently established a second Early Stages Diagnostic Center which is located in an area of the District that has been identified as having the highest need across the city, so I have no doubt that we will reach the court’s benchmark of 8.5%. Families of the District should know that Dr. Beers and the Early Stages team have gone to amazing lengths to remedy this issue.  I commend them on their efforts, which have resulted in nearly a four-fold improvement in just two years. As a result of their work, more children are getting the services they need in a timely manner.”

Dr. Nathaniel Beers, a developmental behavioral pediatrician, joined the Office of Special Education at DCPS in 2009 and opened the restructured Early Stages Center in Ward 6. The Early Stages Center is dedicated to offering expanded outreach, individualized case management, and proactive and comprehensive support to all District families. 

Last week, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, DCPS Chancellor Henderson, and Dr. Beers announced the grand opening of a new Early Stages Center on Minnesota Avenue that is focused specifically on serving families in Wards 7 and 8. This new center will enable DCPS to serve an additional 800 children per year. 

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