Fighting for Special Education Resources in D.C.

June 15, 2023

In Washington D.C., tens of thousands of students are being left behind in the education system. Students who need special education services are falling behind their peers on important metrics like reading on grade level and graduation. Leaders of Color is working with District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and D.C.’s public charter schools to help more students succeed. 

In D.C., 15.1 percent of all students receive specialized education services, representing nearly 14,300 students in DC’s public schools. D.C. Public Charter Schools, which educate 48 percent of all students in D.C., also serve higher percentages of high needs special education students than D.C.’s traditional public schools. While the four-year graduation rate for DCPS in the 2021-2022 school year was 72.5 percent and 80.1 percent for public charter schools, the graduation rate for students with disabilities, which includes students served by special education services, is only 58.1 percent. 

Challenges for students with disabilities include transportation issues, over-disciplining, and lack of funding and resources for services and staff. To combat these challenges, Leaders of Color fellows and alumni testified at school board meetings and drafted resolutions to request additional resources for students who need special education resources across the city. Fellows and alumni also shared a list of recommendations for special education spending to help shape a fiscal year 2024 budget that supports D.C.’s most vulnerable students. 

D.C. can’t afford to leave 14,000 of its students behind because of lackluster services for students who need special education resources. And, D.C.’s students deserve a better system that evaluates students’ needs without bias. Together with our partners and Democrats for Education Reform, Leaders of Color is working to make a change.

More You might like

Leaders of Color Memphis Fellows Running for Memphis-Shelby County School Board

January 21, 2022
Natasha Cherry-Perez Helps New York's Children Attend High Quality Schools

Driven by the challenges she experienced in her daughter’s school search and the deep desire to help children in her neighborhood succeed, Leaders of Color alum Natasha Cherry-Perez works to improve education outcomes for all of New York's children.

January 21, 2022

Stay connected with our work!

Our monthly newsletter provides a snapshot of our work to build Black and Latino civic engagement and political power in our communities.