District Council members Charles Allen (D- Ward 6) and Janeese Lewis George (D- Ward 4) sponsored emergency legislation to allow for DCPS staff to run for positions on the District’s SBOE. (Courtesy Photo)

By Aysia Morton,
Special to the AFRO

On the first day of March, the District of Columbia Council passed an uncontested emergency law sponsored by Council members Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and Janesse Lewis George (D-Ward 4). The legislation allows teachers and staff of D.C. Public Schools to run and serve on the non-partisan District of Columbia State Board of Education (SBOE).  

“I’m teaming up with to introduce emergency legislation that will allow DCPS teachers and staff to run for . DCPS educators serve on the frontlines of our education system and care deeply for our students. D.C. needs their expertise and dedication in leadership,” the Ward 4 Council member tweeted.

Before the bills were passed, teachers and staff at D.C. Public Schools were not allowed to serve in the SBOE, but teachers and staff at D.C. Public Charter Schools were allowed.

“This change will make our School Board of Education more representative, correct a long-standing imbalance between our public education sectors and bring necessary perspectives to the SBOE’s mission of advancing student learning citywide,” Council member Lewis George continued.

The SBOE is responsible for approving state-level regulations and advising on education policy in public and public charter schools.  

“This is simply about leveling the playing field. The {bill} will ensure that our teachers and staff working in DC Public Schools can bring their leadership and expertise to the table and shape education policy as their charter sector peers can already do,” said Allen. “It makes sense to have the perspectives of those who are in classrooms every day and living with the policy decisions the State Board of Education makes,” he continued.  

The law will take effect as soon as it is signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, allowing current teachers and staff to consider running in the November general election, said Allen’s Chief of Staff Erik Salmi. When the Council passes an emergency bill, it remains in effect for 90 days after the Mayor’s signature. Emergency legislation requires a higher threshold of nine votes, not a simple majority, and cannot impose costs on government agencies. The temporary legislation will be approved on a final vote at the Council’s next legislative meeting,” he continued.  

Public school teachers, staff and their families appreciate the bill. “My mom is a she has all the aptitude, experience heart to serve on ,” tweeted Ward 7 SBOE representative Eboni-Rose Thompson.  “Why? I’m a proud daughter would love to see more educators able to serve.”

Raquel Carson, assistant principal at Powell Elementary School, said she loves the idea and that it’s nice for her to have the option to consider serving on the Board without having to leave her current position.

As the bill’s co-sponsor, Council member Lewis George also noted that the emergency legislation will allow for more people like Carson and Thompson’s mother to run for public office.

“This legislation also corrects a longtime imbalance where public charter school employees can run for a seat on the D.C. State Board of Education, while DCPS employees are excluded from serving,” said Lewis George.  “This emergency {bill} will prevent educators from having to leave their classrooms in order to run for office.”

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!