Move in Petties Litigation Ends 17 Years of Federal Supervision over District
Following 17 years of federal court supervision, control of the city's special education transportation program has been returned to District officials, according to a recent announcement by Mayor Vincent C. Gray.
U.S. Distrct Court Judge Paul Friedman agreed last week to end the supervision and to consider a proposal between the District and lawyers for students and their parents to dismiss the case, for which a hearing is set for Dec. 19.
"This decision to remove federal supervision over special-education transportation is a major accomplishment for the District government – and one my administration has worked hard to achieve," Gray said. "This crucial service will now once again be run exclusively by the District government."
The move is a major milestone in the long-running Petties v. D.C. litigation, a lawsuit that concerns reliable transportation for the District's 3,100 students in specialized education, and timely payments to schools and other partners who provide specialized education services funded by the District.
Under Gray's administration, the District has provided the critically necessary financial and management support to run the specialized education transportation system without court supervision. This support included dedicating a five-year capital investment of $28 million to continue service investments by upgrading the District's fleet.
Previously, the court ended the requirements in the case governing payments to non-public special education schools and related service providers. Working closely with Special Court Master Elise Baach, the District and the parties agreed to a payment and dispute-resolution process to ensure a smooth transition of court oversight back to the District.
"Looking back, we understood that we were facing an enormously difficult task when we took over student transportation services two years ago, but we knew that we had the full support of this administration," said Hosanna Mahaley Jones, State Office of Education superintendent.
"From the very beginning our staff rallied together from every corner of the agency — which included moving my office to our transportation headquarters for a few months. Because of this extraordinary team effort and the commitment to excellent service provided by everyone at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's Department of Transportation, we are now awaiting a decision that will reassure all of those that have helped us achieve this milestone that their efforts have been formally recognized."
Source: D.C. Mayor's Office