Deputy Mayor for Education/ Attorney General

Deputy Mayor for Education

Master Facilities Plan
Letter from 21CSF Executive Director Mary Filardo

Dear Mayor Bowser,

Please see the 21st Century School Fund’s memorandum (attached and below) about the 2018 Educational Master Facilities Plan process. We are concerned that the DME’s facility master plan process cannot produce a reliable cross-sector educational facilities master plan without comprehensive and open school-level public facilities and planning data from charters, as well as from DCPS.  We look forward to engaging with you or members of your staff on how to address these concerns.


Mary Filardo

Executive Director

21st Century School Fund

1816 12th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20009


(202)745-3745 X11 (ph)



TO:                             Mayor Muriel Bowser

FROM:                       Mary Filardo, Executive Director, 21st Century School Fund

DATE:                        August 11, 2017

SUBJECT:                 Data Disclosure in the 2018 Master Facilities Plan Process

On December 21, 2016, you signed the “Planning Actively for Comprehensive Educational-Facilities Amendment Act” (PACE A21-0582) following unanimous Council approval. This Act provided important direction for the District in its educational facility master planning for the next ten years.  However, a July 19th memorandum written to charter operators from the Deputy Mayor for Education appears to void the legislation’s essential requirement for comprehensive and open school-level public facilities and planning data in the development of the upcoming 2018 Master Facilities Plan.

The July 19th memo makes clear that charter operators do not need to provide the same comprehensive school-level facilities and planning data which is required of DCPS. It states that no charter LEA need provide enrollment planning information to the DME.  IF they voluntarily provide their planning projections, only a hired contractor will have access to this data.  It says the public, the Public Charter School Board, and the Deputy Mayor for Education, will ONLY have access to aggregated charter school planning information.The memo also states that DCPS and participating charter schools in District-owned buildings will have their facility condition assessments data made publicly available, but charter schools in non-District owned facilities, who are projected to have over 21,000 students this school year, will only share their condition assessments data with the contractor.

The ODME FAQ states that its intent is to “provide comprehensive facilities information across both sectors… so that leadership in both sectors, policy makers, support organizations, and the community can better plan and make key decisions now and in the future.”However, this cannot be accomplished without full disclosure and public access to individual charter facilities and planning data.

Without full disclosure and complete data on the facility condition, design, capacity and growth plans for charter, as well as DCPS schools, it is not possible to:

  • efficiently plan for projected child population growth;
  • equitably allocate its public education operating and capital budgets;
  • exercise appropriate oversight of the District’s budget;
  • develop appropriate DCPS and charter LEA educational facility plans; or
  • engage communities in authentic neighborhood level planning.

In addition, parents cannot make fully informed school choices for their children without facility and planning information about each individual school option. PACE was motivated by these D.C. values.

The 21st Century School Fund is proud to have been an active partner in the growth and development of DC’s public-school infrastructure and proud of what our city has done to provide high quality public school facilities throughout the District. District of Columbia taxpayers have invested over $3 billion in modernizing our antiquated DCPS schools since FY1997 and over $1 billion in per pupil charter facility allowances since 1996.  In FY2018 the District is obligated to spend over $140 million for the per pupil charter facilities allowance—whether the students are in privately owned or public buildings.

The District has been a leader in two-sector urban education reform. Open government can be difficult, but it is essential to sustaining public trust and support for educationally inspiring and community supported school facilities for all children. We are happy to discuss these issues with you or your staff.



Jennifer Niles, Deputy Mayor for Education

Darren Woodruff, Chair DC Public Charter School Board

Scott Pearson, Executive Dir. DC Public Charter School Board

Antwan Wilson, Chancellor DC Public Schools

Traci L. Hughes, Director, DC Office of Open Government

Kathleen Patterson, DC Auditor


DC Council:

Phil Mendelson, Chairman

Brianne K. Nadeau, Ward 1

Jack Evans, Ward 2

Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3

Brandon T. Todd, Ward 4

Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5

Charles Allen, Ward 6

Vincent C. Gray, Ward 7

Trayon White, Sr., Ward 8

Anita Bonds, At-Large

David Grosso, At-Large

Elissa Silverman, At-Large

Robert C. White, Jr., At-Large


Community Stakeholders:

Coalition for DC Public Schools and Communities (C4DC)

Ed Lazere, Executive Director, DC Fiscal Policy Institute Maura Marino, Chief Executive Officer Education Forward DC

Irene Holtzman, Executive Director, FOCUS



Cross Sector Task Force
View the latest meeting presentation dealing with mobility and possible policy responses here

Student Assignment

The DC Deputy Mayor for Education convened an Advisory Committee on this important subject - Please go to this web address to obtain all the meeting materials  The Implementation Plan can be viewed at the DCPS website at

Adequacy Study
They are also available on the DME website

Attached below is an important letter signed by 60 community groups and individual citizens expressing concern about some of the recommendations in the study. It was mailed on February 21, 2014 to the Mayor and copied to the council.  

Attorney General 

Charter School Law Suit Amicus Brief - 
I attended the hearing  in Federal Court on the District's motion to dismiss the  law suit by Washington Latin, Eagle Academy and the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools alleging that the District has not equally funded charter schools and DCPS as specified in the School Reform Act of 1995.  

It was a two hour hearing with the lawyer representing the city, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Blecher, answering questions and stating the city's case that it was not the intent of Congress to supplant local policy discussion and decision in this quintessentially local issue of education.  The amicus brief linked below says it well.  

The lawyer for the charter schools from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLPand the Marcus Firm PLLC  stated that the District is not sovereign. My understanding of what he stated is that because Congress has interceded, even though it has passed every budget since 1995, the District is in violation of Congressional law.  

A transcript will be available.  The judge asked both attorneys many questions, she was well prepared, tolerant and respectful to both arguments.   She said at the end, there were few clear precedents.  It is an important case with ramifications for our city's home rule and for the education sector.  She will render her decision when she comes to it and then there will probably be appeals as I understand it. Cathy Reilly

Attached below is the Amicus Brief submitted by a number of organizations including SHAPPE.  The main point of the brief is to state that the issue of how the District of Columbia funds its public schools is a local home rule issue.   All the materials pertaining to this law suit are available on the 21CSF website -

Cathy Reilly,
Feb 21, 2014, 12:20 PM
Cathy Reilly,
Feb 21, 2014, 12:24 PM
Cathy Reilly,
Jun 21, 2016, 10:27 AM
Cathy Reilly,
Jun 21, 2016, 10:27 AM
Cathy Reilly,
Jun 21, 2016, 10:09 AM
Cathy Reilly,
Jun 21, 2016, 10:10 AM
Cathy Reilly,
Nov 11, 2014, 10:06 AM