Sandra Moscoso Testimony – Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 – October 2, 2019

Sandra Moscoso Testimony 

Public Hearing on B23-0199, the “Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019” & B23-0281, the “Public Charter School Closure Amendment Act of 2019.”

Committee on Education – October 2, 2019 at 10:00AM, JAWB 412

Chairmen Grosso, Mendelson and Councilmembers, I’m Sandra Moscoso, a Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan parent, the School Without Walls High School Home and School Association President, and Secretary of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization. 

I am here to support the Public School Transparency Amendment Act of 2019. All schools funded by taxpayer dollars should be subject to the Open Meetings Act. I am glad we all agree on this, including the DC Public Charter School Board. 

I also strongly support that charter schools including all local education agencies be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. As EmpowerEd has shared with us, the case has been made in 39 out of 43 states with charter schools, and even the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools endorses this.

As a long-time member of the Ward 6 education community, I can share that we have relied on OMA to strengthen our schools by staying on top of decisions made by education boards and LSATs, and we’ve relied on FOIA when we’ve feared our kids safety, health and education opportunities have been compromised.

I find it hard to understand how anyone can justify putting students at risk because of fears that doing the right thing may be too much work. Yes, doing the right thing typically takes work, but we live in a society that relies on systems of individuals doing the right thing. 

For example, we have seatbelt laws. Putting on a seatbelt is an extra step, but I think we can all agree it’s worthwhile to keep ourselves and our families safe. I do this, I assume you all do this. I had been lucky and had not been in a traffic accident for over 20 years. One could say that for 20 years that seatbelt has not been doing much of anything. Last October, while driving my two children to after school activities I was t-boned by a motorist who ran a red light. My car was totaled, but we were all OK. That seatbelt was a safeguard that was activated when things went wrong.

This is the role of FOIA in schools – it is the safeguard families, educators, media, policymakers all of us, have to ensure our students are safe, healthy, and that resources are being used for purposes intended. Like seatbelts, FOIA is a tool that protects us when things go wrong.

The Council has oversight responsibility in ensuring children and adults enrolled in public schools receive the education we pay for. The public elected you to provide this oversight but we know you can’t do it alone. Help us help you. Ensuring every student is protected by FOIA.

Thank you for your time.

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