Jan 10: Legal Action in DC’s Public Schools

The January 10 show for Education Town Hall, our first show for 2019, will be a discussion with lawyers Mary Levy and Kent Withycombe of the history of legal action in DC’s public schools. Listen at 11 a.m. EASTERN on Thursday, January 10, via TuneIn or by visiting We Act Radio and clicking on arrow at upper left (NOTE: Not all “listen” buttons are working at present). Or check back shortly after air time for recording.

Valerie Jablow continues:
For the better part of a century, DC’s publicly funded schools have been at the center of many of our country’s most important legal actions in education, including major desegregation lawsuits Bolling v. Sharpe (which became part of the Brown v. Board lawsuit); Carr v. Corning; and Hobson v. Hansen. Later, in the 1980s and 1990s, the citizens’ group Parents United brought lawsuits to address thousands of fire code violations in DCPS schools and ensure nurses were available in all schools. The result of that successful litigation was to bring attention to the decrepit physical state of most DCPS schools, leading to a massive capital investment program still underway.

More recently, legislation regarding DC’s publicly funded schools–the 1995 School Reform Act, the 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act that established mayoral control, and the 2018 Student Fair Access to Schools Act—continues to radically shape the experience of public education in our city. And there have been recent lawsuits regarding school closures (in 2013); inequities in charter school funding (still ongoing); as well as a lawsuit to ensure the chancellor selection panel complies with the law.

For this discussion, Education Town Hall is privileged to have two guests at the center of recent litigation regarding DC’s public schools: lawyers Mary Levy and Kent Withycombe.

A long-time resident of DC, Mary Levy is a budget analyst as well as a lawyer and a parent of DCPS alumni. In the 1980s and 90s, Levy was counsel to the Parents United litigation. In addition, Levy has spent decades analyzing DCPS budgets, including most recently completing a study of teacher retention.

Kent Withycombe is the head of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, Public Education Project, which partners with DCPS schools for tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment as well as provides guidance on issues of equity. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee was also involved in the Parents United litigation and is an amicus for the defendants in the charter funding lawsuit.

The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd
broadcasts from Historic Anacostia
in Washington, DC, on We Act Radio,
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern
New programming 2nd and 4th Thursdays, alternating with classic shows.
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

After years of weekly broadcasts, the program now focuses one show each month on local issues and one on “the BUS,” organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March.

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