Changes to School Health Services Program, Concerns, and What You Can Do

The Department of Health is changing the method of delivering school health services and school nurse staffing allocations starting in January 2017.

For background, see the slide presentation made at two community forums in October to explain these changes or read more information on the school health services program here.

Overview of the changes

According to the DOH presentation, the goals of the changes is to improve health outcomes for our students and standardize level of care provided. Changes reflect an underlying belief that public health initiatives for schools don’t require a credentialed nurse in each school 40 hours per week, despite documented value of school nurses.

There will be a new algorithm to determine whether a school gets 20 or 40 hours per week of nurse coverage will be based on four elements: children with special health needs; enrollment; health suite use; profile data. These data will be reassessed monthly, so coverage could increase or decrease monthly at a school if one or more of the data points changes.

DOH plans to staff point people at schools to calculate the algorithm and identify student needs related to Individual Health Plans. The goal is to improve health outcomes for DCPS students (currently only 40% of DC public school students have complete universal health forms, which includes up-to-date immunizations).

When a nurse is not there, schools will be responsible for using its own staff to cover health needs, or calling 911.

Concerns raised about these changes

* Decreased coverage in light of national recommendations (CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend full-time school nurses)

* Possible need to rely more heavily on 911 when the nurses aren’t there

* Starting a new program in the middle of the school year

* Lack of transparency and community engagement in how decisions were made about the changes and what is driving the need for cost savings?

How you can help

1. Send feedback ASAP on school nursing (to help provide Ward 6 perspectives to the City Council). Send us an email at or share feedback this form:

Please share:
* What is the value of school nurses to you personally or your school community?
* What is the impact on your school when school staff has to cover nursing duties when a school nurse is not on site?
* Name of your school

2. Sign a petition from the Washington Teachers’ Union and the DC Nurses Association. Every Child Deserves a Full-Time Nurse in His or Her School

3. Testify in front of the City Council or submit written testimony for the Education Committee’s Public Roundtable on School Health Services Program on Oct. 25:
Note: If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Written statements should be submitted via email to or by mail to the Committee on Education, Council of the District of Columbia, Suite 116 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004. The record will close at 5:00 p.m. on November 8, 2016.


October 18 CHPSPO Meeting at Miner

The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization will hold it’s October 18 meeting at Miner Elementary. We will be discussing the cross-sector task force, visits to the Wilson building planned for November, follow up to the Summer Modernization hearing, and more. Hope to see you on the 18th.

Suzanne Wells

101816 CHPSPO Agenda.docx


Council hearing: summer modernization roundtable, Childhood Lead Prevention Act

For those of you tuning into tomorrow’s hearing ( please see materials distributed by CM Allen’s office.

Ahead of the DCPS/DGS hearing tomorrow on summer modernization work and the Childhood Lead Prevention Act, Councilmember Allen asked DCPS and DGS a number of advance questions about the condition of and work at Ward 6 schools. Their responses are attached. If you haven’t already signed up to testify but would like to submit written testimony, the hearing record will close on October 20.

If you are unable to testify in person, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Copies of written statements should be submitted to Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 108, Washington, D.C. 20004. They may also be e-mailed to abenjamin or faxed to (202) 724-8118. The record will close at the end of the business day on October 20, 2016.

Tomorrow’s witness list is also attached. If you have any questions, just let me know.



Laura Marks, Chief of Staff

Office of Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 406

@CM_CharlesAllen |

ATTACHMENT — DCPS Ward 6 Work Order list 10.4.16.pdf

DGS pre-hearing questions letter response CM Allen 10.4.16.pdf

2016-10-06 Summer Modernization, B21-831 Childhood Lead Prevention.docx


CHPSPO meets September 20 at Payne Elementary

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization members,

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, September 20, at Payne Elementary (1445 C Street, SE). Liz Davis, the President of the Washington Teachers Union, will join us at our meeting. In addition to the discussion with Ms. Davis, we will be discussing the final preparations for Walk-to-School Day, share school practices on morning drop-off, and begin planning for visits to the Wilson Building in October.

I also want to share a recent interview Andy Shallal did with Gary Ratner, Executive Director of Citizens for Better Schools, on the Pacifica Radio show, “Business Matters,” about the need for a new education strategy and what skills our city should be looking for in the next Chancellor to carry out this new education strategy. A voice recording of the 20 minute interview is available at . Click on “Archived Shows”. Scroll down to “Business Matters” for September 12, 2016, 9:00 am and click on “Play.” (Interview starts around 9:15 and you can skip to that by clicking on grey progress bar to right of the pause button.)

I’m also sharing a letter that was written by a Ward 4 parent regarding changes to staffing for school nurses. CHPSPO has discussed in the past issues dealing with school nurses, and I thought people would want to see this letter.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

Dear DC Government Officials,
I am writing you to express my concern over changes I recently learned were planned to the way school nurses are provided in our public schools. At a Ward 4 Education Alliance meeting on 9/14, Dr. Schumacher of DCPS confirmed a rumor that schools will no longer have a minimum of 1 nurse per school, and instead have a minimum of 1/2 nurse per school as part of a larger initiative to increase coordination of care with physicians and community health organizations. It was stated that these changes were intended to be implemented by January 2017.

I support the general notions that were presented, including increased equity and better utilization of public resources. But I object to the way the actions are being carried forward. I request that you preserve a full time nurse at each public school. If there are worthwhile initiatives to increase performance and efficiency, then please add to the budget to pay for those. Don’t pay for it by cutting nurse staff to our schools.

In the meeting, it was stated that school staff can manage issues while the school nurse is not present. I strongly object to this for two reasons. First, I don’t see any additional funding going to cover staff positions as we add collateral duties, and I don’t believe you get something for nothing. If anything, the staff should have fewer collateral duties or increased staff to better handle them. Second, the little training that staff gets does not take the place of a true nurse. While they may be able to handle minor bumps and scrapes, can they handle infectious disease outbreaks? Will they know the signs of more serious illness? Waiting until the nurse is back in the office is not an acceptable response. And I do not trust the idea of having centralized resources to supplement by phone. Nothing takes the place of a full-time nurse in the school invested in the school community.

I’d also like you to address the lack of transparency in this process. This represents a notable change in our schools, and you’ve hidden this from us until it’s nearly a done deal. You can do much better than that, and you have in the past. Take, for example, the school boundary realignment process. While it was painful, I do feel that you heard us and adjusted the actions in response to what you heard from us. There has been no such thing for this change, and I don’t think you’re taking us in a direction that many parents want to go. I request that you put a hold on this process and try again with parent input. There’s generally little trust in DC government and this lack of transparency erodes what little is left.

While you state a goal of promoting equity, I don’t think you’ve fully recognized the inequity that reducing nurse staffing drives. For example, when my daughter hit her head, we were fortunate enough to be able to pick her up from school and bring her to a doctor because there was no nurse available in the school. The same would be significantly more difficult for the child of a single parent with a less flexible job.

As it is, your actions seem to be related to the current shortage of nurses, which is already affecting our schools. It’s disturbing to me that the current contract provisions that require at least one nurse per school are not being maintained. What is DOH and DCPS doing about this? Is the council even aware?

Thank you,
Joshua Hertzberg
Ward 4 parent of 2 DCPS students

CHPSPO Agenda 092016.docx


CHPSPO Meets August 16 at Maury

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, August 16 at Maury. We will be discussing the search for the new Chancellor, the cross-sector collaboration task force, and planning for Walk-to-School Day. Try to stay cool this weekend!

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Maury Elementary

12th & Constitution Ave., NE
August 16, 2016
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

6:30 – 6:35 Introductions

6:35 – 7:00 Chancellor Search, DME representative (invited)

7:00 – 7:30 Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force, DME representative (invited) and Caryn Ernst

7:30 – 8:00 Walk to School Day Planning Committee

Next CHPSPO Meeting: September 20, 2016

Upcoming Events

First Day of School,
August 22

Chancellor Search Community Meeting
August 30, 6:30 pm, Roosevelt High School
September 7, 6:30 pm, Eastern High School
September 14, 6:30 pm, Savoy Elementary

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force
September 27, 6 pm, EducationCounsel, 101 Constitution Ave., NW, Suite 900

2016 Walk to School Day
October 5, Lincoln Park

Register at

Suzane Wells


Meet Isamar Vargas – Eliot-Hine’s New Principal!

Please come meet the new Eliot-Hine Middle School principal, Isamar Vargas, learn about her vision and the school’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme.
    Wednesday, August 3, 8 – 9:30 am, Pretzel Bakery (257 15th St., SE)
    Thursday, August 4, 8 – 9:30 am, Mia’s Coffeehouse (101 15th St., NE)