Washington, D.C.—Today, the DC Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), announced the launch of the DC Special Education Hub, a new initiative to support families with students attending public schools in the District of Columbia connect with information and resources about special education and demystify the special education process.
The DC Special Education Hub (DC SpEd Hub) is an initiative of the Office of the DC Ombudsman for Public Education, an independent, impartial office that helps students and families with questions, concerns, and complaints about DC public and public charter schools, and made possible by an OSSE investment of $1.5M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. With the DC SpEd Hub, the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education will grow the supports and services available for families of students with disabilities, a group of students who face unique challenges in navigating the school system and who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“Almost one in five students attending public schools in the District are entitled to special education services, but the process of accessing and using those services can be confusing for families,” said Ombudsman for Public Education Serena M. Hayes. “By providing plain-language, multilingual resources and expanding the one-on-one, neutral assistance available for students with disabilities, the DC Special Education Hub will support families and students with disabilities in making decisions about their own learning.”
The DC SpEd Hub will provide students and families needing support with special education access to tools, information, and one-on-one assistance – including through a multilingual text and phone hotline and on the DC SpEd Hub website at specialeducation.dc.gov. The DC SpEd Hub team will also host in-person and virtual workshops and trainings for families to support students with special learning needs.
In 2018, research conducted by OSSE found that educational gaps persist between students with disabilities and their peers – and that those gaps have grown over time. OSSE’s research also identified parent engagement and access to information about special education as major barriers and included a commitment to invest in more resources directly for families as part of the agency’s Special Education Roadmap, published in 2020.
“We are proud to support the launch of this new service for students with disabilities and their families,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “We know parents are critical partners in their child’s learning, and the new DC Special Education Hub will help equip them with knowledge and tools in this critical time for our children, families and schools.”
"The Office of the Ombudsman has been a consistent and trusted resource for families of students with disabilities as they navigate special education in the District. The DC SpEd Hub is a powerful way to expand the reach of this work and to provide critical information and support to families," said Jessica Sutter, DC State Board of Education President.
Families who want to contact the DC Special Education Hub can visit the website, call (202) 671-2890 or email [email protected].
About the SBOE
The D.C. State Board of Education is an independent agency within the Government of the District of Columbia that advises the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), the District’s state education agency. The State Board is made up of nine elected representatives, each representing their respective wards, with one member representing D.C. at large, and four appointed student representatives. The State Board approves statewide education policies and sets academic standards, while OSSE oversees education within the District and manages federal education funding. More information about the SBOE can be found at sboe.dc.gov.
Contact: Hannah Blumenfeld