It’s hard to believe that August is already winding down. For some families, the new school year began this week. And for many others, including all DC Public Schools, school starts on Monday the 28th. Cora and Everett are excited to start 6th and 2nd grade respectively, and both mom and dad are ready for the new year too! If you or your kiddo are headed back to school soon, I hope the new school year gets off to a great start for you! I've been checking in with many of our schools, educators, and parents to help with the last minute push to ensure schools are ready. And as always, a big thanks to our outstanding teachers and leaders in the classrooms! As you enjoy the last week of August, here's a newsletter with some updates across the board. We'll cover public safety updates, what you need to know for back-to-school, and some upcoming events in the Ward you shouldn't miss. So if you're back from vacation and tuning back in, read on!
Quick Links: Public Safety Update | DC's Red Flag Law | Back-to-School Reminders | DC State Testing Scores Up | Rumsey Pool Update | Lincoln Park Family Day | 8th & Mass Ave Triangle Park | Kennedy Rec Center Modernization | Outdoor Pool Schedule | Live On The Hill Jazz
My team and I continue to join or organize as many community safety walks as we can to ensure residents are able to hear from MPD officers and other public safety agency leaders. And just as importantly, these staff who work in the neighborhoods can hear from you about your own observations and concerns. Public safety remains the top issue and one my entire team is engaged on. I've written in previous newsletters about the emergency law the Council passed in July and in case you missed some of the most recent updates, you can find them here.
When it comes to gun violence and the easy access to guns across the region, there remains a lot that requires national action. But there's at least one tool that DC controls that has long been underused: our red flag law that can help remove a gun before someone does harm to themselves or others.
This week, DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb issued a public safety advisory to educate DC residents about our “Red Flag" law. I worked with my colleagues at the Council to pass the District's red flag law back in 2018 and it's been in effect, but rarely used, since May of 2019. In essence, red flag laws can get guns out of the hands of people who are clearly at risk of doing harm to themselves or others. It often is associated more with self-harm, but it can equally apply when a family member, such as a parent or grandparent, is worried about a family member who they know has a gun and sees the danger. The entire purpose is to recognize that gun violence is often driven by personal conflict that builds up. There are people who see it coming and this is a tool for them.
In those cases, the resident or an MPD officer can petition for an Emergency Protection Order (ERPO), requiring the removal of guns (whether its a legally registered firearm or not) from a potentially dangerous person. In the budget last year, I secured funding for a simple public awareness campaign. My thanks to Attorney General Schwalb and his team for rolling it out. Their work led to a well-reported piece on the Red Flag law from the Washington Post. This is a tool we can use to get guns out of a dangerous situation, illegally or legally owned, but it only works if people who spot the danger know what to do. Learn more about the District’s “Red Flag Law”.
Ward 6 Public Safety Updates:
Arrest at 800 H St. for Distribution of a Controlled Substance while Armed -- MPD shared with my team that they've made an arrest around drug distribution at the intersection of 8th and H St., NE. This is an intersection where I've asked different agencies, including MPD, to have a stronger presence and this arrest shows that partnership is having an impact.
Arrest following armed robbery at 9th and L St., NE
Arrest made for Burglary Two at 1300 H Street NE
Arrests made for multiple armed carjacking offenses (including some in Ward 6) - including this as a good reminder many offenses are committed by a small number of people.
It’s hard to believe that our DCPS students are heading back to school Monday (what will parents do with all that extra time not booking camps?!) and our DC Public Charter School students are as well in the next two weeks. Make sure you and your kids are ready with vaccinations up to date, a transportation plan, supplies, and more. I’m re-sharing the some of the back-to-school reminders and resources I shared in my last newsletter below.
- Vaccinations: School Immunization Policy and Resources from OSSE, Community Pediatric Vaccination Sites
- Back to School Resources and Events from the DC Public Library
- Ward 6 Mutual Aid’s Annual Back to School Bash is tomorrow from 11 am - 4 pm at the Eastern Market Metro Plaza.
- Kids Ride Free
- DC Special Education Hub
- Link to last year’s newly established website to provide live status updates on school bus routes.
- Hill Family Biking Back-to-School Ride on Saturday, September 2, from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. The ride will start at Maury and end at the Watkins' splash pad and field.
Speaking of heading back to school, this week the Office of the State Superintendent of Education released results of the PARCC state test results from last school year, showing a 2.6 percentage point increase in math and 2.9 percentage point gain in the English Language Arts tests over 2022 results. This is promising news that shows we’re trending in the right direction after the disruption of in-person learning led to decreased scores last year. Even though we’re still not back to pre-pandemic scores, we should recognize and celebrate that our 2023 scores are the result of hard work from our dedicated teachers and students, who still are working to undo a lot of the damage done during the worst months of the pandemic. We’ve still got work to do, but as both a DCPS parent and elected leader, I’m proud of our teachers and students and expect that we will continue to see improvements in the years to come.
My office and I have heard from a lot of frustrated residents about Rumsey's recent closures. After contacting DGS and DPR, I learned that the HVAC system went down right after they completed their filtration system fixes (neither of which were communicated clearly to residents). Like many of you, I am frustrated at DPR’s failure to adequately communicate these issues with Rumsey users, as they have also failed to share updates with my office. I was particularly frustrated that a better effort wasn't made to relocate existing programming that swimmers depend on. On Monday, DPR has told me the repairs were completed, the building passed inspection, and the pool has opened. As many of you know, I’ve put money in the budget to rebuild and modernize Rumsey, but we’re several years away from that being completed. In the meantime, I’m going to follow up with DPR and DGS about what went wrong and how we can ensure they will keep residents and pool users clearly updated on future closures and repairs.
This Saturday from 11:30 am - 4:30 pm, join the Capitol Hill Seventh-Day Adventist Church at Lincoln Park for its One Love: Lincoln Park Family Day event. There will be a kids zone with arts and crafts, food zone with Taste of DC, free blood pressure checks, eye screenings, listening booth with licensed therapists, and gospel yoga, prizes and backpack giveaways, and a snow cone truck!
Triangle Park at 8th and Massachusetts Ave NE
Some exciting news about a small but important public space: work is finally beginning on the small triangle park at 8th and Massachusetts Ave NE that I worked with then-ANC Commissioner Mike Soderman to get money in the budget for a few years ago. It needed an upgrade and it's getting one now. While not on the scale of some of the larger park and playground projects I've worked with neighbors to have rebuilt and improved, I'm still excited that even this relatively small area can become a communal place where neighbors gather, manage gardens and plantings, have a spot for a cool drink of water, and more.
On August 12, the Department of Parks and Recreation closed the Kennedy Recreation Center for a modernization project that will include a brand new kitchen, a flexible multipurpose gathering space for all and new computer work space. Kennedy Rec Center used to be in Ward 6 (and is now in Ward 2) and is still a close option for Mt. Vernon Triangle residents, but I worked with neighbors to add funds to make needed improvements for the rec center that is a hub of life and activity for neighbors both young and old. I'm glad to see these improvements underway. The work is scheduled to conclude in Winter 2024 and the rec center will reopen shortly after. You can check out the project's page for more information.
While it's still certainly pool weather outside, remember DPR outdoor pools have started to close for the season, with the final pool closures on Labor Day, September 4. Randall Pool closed on August 20 while Rosedale remains open (although it is closed on Wednesdays) until Labor Day at 6pm. You can see the schedules and closing dates for all the District’s outdoor pools here.
Spray Parks will maintain their same schedule through Labor Day. Hours and locations here.
The Live on The Hill weekly jazz concerts will be back the first week of September! After a short break in August, Barracks Row Main Street is bringing back the concert series each Friday at the Eastern Market Metro Park. Enjoy live music, food and special activities from their 8th Street Partners. Upcoming performance times:
- 9/1 5:00-6:30 PM - Capitol Hill Jazz Performance
- 9/8 5:00-6:30 PM - String Attacks, String Quartet
- 9/15 5:00-6:30 PM - Capitol Hill Jazz Performance
- 9/22 5:00-6:30 PM - TBA
- 9/29 5:00-10:00 PM - Capitol Hill Jazz & Art All Night
That's all from me for now. I hope you're able to get outside and enjoy what for many of you is the final weekend of summer before school starts.
See you around the neighborhood,