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Special Education Center at River Terrace

DCPS plans to consolidate Sharpe Health School and Mamie D. Lee School into one school at the River Terrace Elementary School site. This site will open in the fall of 2015 and serve as a model school for students with profound intellectual disabilities. This includes students who have multiple diagnoses, Which could include intellectual disability, as well as one or more of the following: medical complexity, visual or hearing impairment, and autism. The former River Terrace Elementary site will receive a full modernization, and DCPS is working with each school and the River Terrace community through the School Improvement Team (SIT) process to develop the site. This new site will allow opportunities for the community to volunteer, hold community meetings and vote, while also providing an excellent educational space to our students with disabilities in a self-contained, special education setting.

Reasons for combining Mamie D. Lee and Sharpe Health into one site at River Terrace:

  • Commitment to maintaining a continuum of services: DCPS is committed developing a dedicated school for students currently attending Sharpe and Lee so that students can be educated within the district, regardless of the level of services they require.
  • Sustainable school size: With drops in school enrollment, each school currently serves less than 100 students. Combining the schools allows DCPS to provide improved resources and services.
  • Increased resources: Provide more resources in one site (Assistive Technology, Transition, Functional Life Skills, etc.).  This will allow DCPS to help students maximize their educational experience and better equip them for life after graduation.
  • Improved collaboration: Increased collaboration among staff members at both schools will improve educational outcomes for students.
  • Improved physical space: DCPS can create an excellent space because we are starting with a building on one floor that is well suited for a modernization.

Current Status

The new school at River Terrace was originally slated to open in the fall of 2014. However, the Department of General Services has recently made adjustments to the construction timeline. These changes will result in the delay of the opening of the new facility until the fall of 2015. For more background on these changes, please review the parent and community update letters recently distributed by DC Public Schools.

The School Improvement Team process for the River Terrace Special Education Center formally launched in March of 2013. The SIT meetings are ongoing and include representatives from the Mamie D. Lee and Sharpe Health school communities as well as the River Terrace Civic Organization. The architectural and engineering firm selected to lead the design process is Bryant Mitchell & Fanning Howey. GCS|INC. who, since 1986, has managed several major construction efforts here in the District of Columbia will serve as the construction team. Most recently, GCS|INC supported the full modernization of Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus located in Columbia Heights.

To learn more about the project, please review the Frequently Asked Questions document prepared by the DCPS Office of Specialized Instruction.

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