Washington, DC — Today, DC Charter School Alliance Founding Executive Director Shannon Hodge released the following statement on the Protecting our Children Emergency Amendment Act of 2021, legislation introduced by Chairman Phil Mendelson:
“We appreciate Chairman Mendelson and the Council’s leadership for listening to parents and students. Schools have gone to extraordinary lengths to create safe learning and working environments, and it is clear that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to bringing all students back into school buildings. We know that there are mounting attendance issues across all schools, which is a reflection of families’ individual health risk calculus, not negligence on the part of parents or schools.
“Specifically, there are a significant number of students who have completed their enrollment paperwork but have not attended school yet. While many of these students will qualify for an exemption under this emergency legislation, the enrollment audit deadline will have passed by the time the legislation is enacted. This will create an unintended outcome of schools having to choose between unenrolling these students or not receiving funding for them. The bill must be amended to address this issue.
“Policymakers must consider the implementation timelines that schools need for adopting new policies and procedures with this legislation and any other in the future. While our schools are nimble, we run the risk of eroding trust with families and school staff if we continue to choose to act only when our students, families, and schools are on the brink of crisis. We must collaborate more and earlier so that schools can be prepared, and families know that the city’s education system has their best interests in mind.”