We have often heard it said that “DCPS doesn’t want the building.” We’ve heard it from councilmembers, representatives of non-DCPS city agencies, and many times from representatives or supporters of the Lab School. But there’s one place we’ve never heard it from: DCPS.
Last fall we set out to see if DCPS had ever really considered using the building. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request with DCPS, asking for “all documents from January 1, 2013 to the present relating to the use or potential use by DCPS of the property at 1550 Foxhall Road NW.” We chose 2013 as the starting date because it was in 2013 that a 50-year lease extension was first proposed, and when it was ultimately withdrawn later in the year one of the reasons was that DCPS was unable to certify that they had no need for the building. So we figured that if DCPS had decided they no longer needed the building it had to have been since 2013.
We received a response from DCPS on December 6, 2018. They had no documents relating to the property. (You can read their response here. ) They recommended that we check with the Department of General Services (DGS), which is responsible for managing the city’s real property portfolio.
Fortunately, we had also filed a Freedom of Information Act request with DGS. We actually received a significant number of documents in response to that request, you can view them all here. Mostly they related to the minutiae of landlord-tenant interactions over a decade, with a few relating to lease extension.
What is conspicuously lacking is any interaction or correspondence at all with DCPS or discussion of DCPS using the property.
We can only conclude that there has never been any serious discussion within DCPS or DGS about whether the site can be used by DCPS.