(Washington, DC) – Today, as part of Education Week 2018, Mayor Bowser highlighted the District’s efforts to ensure students have the resources and support they need to travel to and from school safely, announcing updates to the District’s Safe Passage program and calling on community members to volunteer with the program. The Mayor was joined by Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Jennifer Niles and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Inspector Mike Coligan.
“In addition to feeling safe at school, our students must feel safe getting to and from school,” said Mayor Bowser. “With the help of the community, we can do more to remove barriers that might prevent some students from attending school every day, on time.”
The School Safety and Safe Passage Working Group, which includes representatives from government agencies, school leaders, and community members and is led by the DME and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, identified five priority areas based on the number of student-involved incidents during the 2016-2017 school year. In each priority area, DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter school leaders are working with government and community partners, including MPD, the Metro Transit Police Department, and the District Department of Transportation, to address student safety issues. The five priority areas include:
- NoMa-Gallaudet U Metro Station
- L’Enfant Plaza/Waterfront Metro Stations
- Minnesota Avenue Metro Station
- Anacostia Metro Metro Station
- Good Hope Road Corridor Southeast
“Our efforts to ensure every day counts start with ensuring our students make it into the building safely and ready to learn,” said Deputy Mayor Niles. “We want our students and families to know that our entire community is working together to keep them safe and set them up for success.”
Over the next few weeks, the Safe Passage Working Group will begin recruiting and training community members to serve as Safe Passage volunteers.
“I feel like for the first time since moving to this location we are part of a community outside of our school community and this is because of the work with Safe Passage,” said NaKeisha Jones-Helton, Dean of Students and Families at Two Rivers Public Charter School, located in the NoMa-Gallaudet U Metro Station priority area. “The coordination has been very helpful because of the way it brings together the schools that are in the same area. It also has made me feel more empowered in the community that I serve and share that empowerment with our families.”
The updated Safe Passage program is the latest effort from the Bowser Administration to raise attendance rates at schools across the District and keep young people safe. In 2015, Mayor Bowser expanded the Kids Ride Free program to include Metrorail, allowing students to travel to and from school on the Metrobus, DC Circulator, and Metrorail for free. Kids Ride Free saves families an average of $700 per year. This school year, the Mayor launched Every Day Counts!, a citywide initiative to raise awareness about the importance of attendance and connect students and families with resources. And, this week, Mayor Bowser launched Learn24, an initiative focused on ensuring students have access to safe places to learn and discover their passions and interests beyond the regular school day.
Details about upcoming safe passage recruitment fairs will be available at dme.dc.gov/safepassage, where students and families can also find an interactive map to help plan their routes to school.