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Sandra Moscoso – SBOE Meeting on Reopening of DC Public Schools

Testimony of Sandra Moscoso

before the DC State Board of Education

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Reopening of Schools

President Watterberg and State Board of Education Representatives, thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Sandra Moscoso. I live in Ward 6 and am the parent of two students at School Without Walls High School, where I serve as the President of the Home and School Association.

I am here to raise grave concerns about how DC Public Schools, together with the Department of General Services are proceeding with plans to reopen schools for in person instruction in a way that excludes teachers, threatens principals, and ignores very real concerns raised by parents. 

It’s no secret that teachers have been excluded from the planning process around reopening schools. Instead of engaging them, and building sensible practices or co-creating distance-friendly solutions, teachers have been treated like an afterthought, with no regard for their expertise and worse, with no regard for their well-being and health.

Principals have been kept in the dark, and forced to respond to last minute decisions or reversals that come from Central Office. I got the first taste of it this summer while DCPS insisted summer bridge would be in-person, suggesting teacher shortages be filled by Central Office staff who know nothing about the schools they would be representing. This DCPS “solution” would come back to haunt us this week. DCPS reversed course at the last minute, leaving Principals scrambling to recruit teachers in the summer and pull together last minute virtual classes.

Principals have also been silenced. A little over two weeks ago, Principal Trogisch publicly shared that DCPS and DGS could not answer his basic questions about air filtration and ventilation standards. He was transparent with his community and that he would not open Francis-Stevens elementary if he did not feel it was safe. Days later, he was abruptly fired for what was originally described to us as “administrative’ reasons, leaving 1200 students, their families and their educators shocked and devastated. DCPS recklessness was no oversight. When asked how this decision, made during a pandemic, weeks from reopening schools, was in the best interest of students, Chief of Secondary Schools Cito Narcisse and Instructional Superintendent Jellig responded simply. “It is not in the best interest of students.”

DCPS’s actions inspire no confidence and have not just eroded the trust of parents in Central Office, but now threaten to erode the trust we have in our own principals, who have been given the very clear message to fall in line or be dismissed. 

Like yesterday’s news of DCPS’ plan to pull staff from secondary schools to support CARES classes, DCPS continues to introduce ideas that threaten to disrupt the fragile “new normal” we have all worked so hard to build. Their recklessness threatens to destabilize academic scaffolding and every school community’s mental health.

I am here to ask the State Board of Education to pass a resolution to call for the reinstatement of Principal Trogisch, to express no confidence in the way Chancellor Ferebee has handled his firing, and to express no confidence in how DC Public Schools is rolling out the plans to reopen for in-person learning.

Thank You.

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