Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Expansion to Universal Pre-k.


§ 38–273.01. Expansion to universal pre-k.

(a) The OSSE shall conduct, by September 30th of each year, an evaluation of all pre-k programs to establish existing capacity.

(b) By September 2009, and every 5 years thereafter, the OSSE shall submit to the Mayor and the Council a 5-year strategic expansion plan, including an assessment of the number of children interested in attending pre-k and the District’s fiscal and physical capacity to accommodate them.

(c) Beginning in September 2009, and each year thereafter, OSSE shall submit to the Mayor and the Council an implementation plan for the following school year to expand pre-k to the maximum extent possible, but shall expand pre-k each year to accommodate a minimum of 15% of the unserved children, based on the strategic expansion plan, until pre-k programs are available to all children of pre-k age whose parents choose to send them to pre-k.

(d)(1) During the expansion to universal pre-k, OSSE shall use its best efforts to:

(A) Ensure that over a 5-year period a minimum of 25% of all new pre-k programs are operated by CBOs; and

(B) Maintain a balance of diversity among the children.

(2) For the purpose of this subsection, “diversity” means a mix of children:

(A) From families of different income levels;

(B) With, and without, disabilities or special needs; and

(C) Whose first language is, and is not, English.

(e) A pre-k program established following July 18, 2008, shall comply with the HQ standards, established pursuant to, respectively, §§ 38-271.02(b)(4) and 38-272.01(b), upon the effective date of the HQ standards.


(July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-202, § 301, 55 DCR 6297.)


§ 38–273.02. Eligibility and priority for enrollment in pre-k.

(a) To be eligible for enrollment in pre-k, a child shall be a resident of the District and be of pre-k age, or become 3 years of age on or before September 30th of the program year.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, priority enrollment shall be first to children who live within the school’s attendance zone boundary, as established pursuant to law and regulation, if applicable, and then to children whose family income is between 130% and 250% of federal poverty guidelines, and to children whose family income is below 130% who are not served by existing programs.

(c) Enrollment for pre-k programs in District of Columbia Public Charter Schools shall be conducted according to the admission and enrollment provisions of § 38-1802.06.


(July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-202, § 302, 55 DCR 6297; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, § 306, 56 DCR 1117; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-223, § 4002, 57 DCR 6242.)

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-353 validated a previously made technical correction in the subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 18-223, in subsec. (b), substituted “Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, priority enrollment” for “Priority enrollment”; and added subsec. (c).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Pre-K Acceleration and Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2009 (D.C. Act 18-304, January 28, 2010, 57 DCR 1475).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4002 of Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-463, July 2, 2010, 57 DCR 6542).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(f) of D.C. Law 18-142, in subsec. (b), substituted “then, if applicable, to children” for “then to children”.

Section 5(a) of D.C. Law 18-142 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Short Title

Short title: Section 4001 of D.C. Law 18-223 provided that subtitle A of title IV of the act may be cited as the “Pre-k Enrollment Amendment Act of 2010”.


§ 38–273.03. Restriction on out-of-school discipline for pre-k age students.

(a) Beginning in school year 2015-2016, no student of pre-k age may receive a disciplinary unenrollment, as defined in § 38-236.01(3), from any publicly funded community-based organization, school in the District of Columbia Public Schools system, or public charter school that provides pre-k care and education services to pre-k age children.

(b) Beginning in school year 2015-2016, no student of pre-k age may receive an out-of- school suspension from any publicly funded community-based organization, school in the District of Columbia Public Schools system, or public charter school that provides pre-k care and education services to pre-k age children, unless it is determined by a school or program administrator that the student has willfully caused or attempted to cause bodily injury, or threatened serious bodily injury to another person, except in self-defense. No student of pre-k age may be suspended for longer than 3 days for any individual incident.


(July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-202, § 303; as added June 23, 2015, D.C. Law 21-12, § 2(b), 62 DCR 5942; Aug. 25, 2018, D.C. Law 22-157, § 3(b)(2), 65 DCR 7499.)