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Highlights of School-Related Provisions of Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014: An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
January 16, 2015


Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014, An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence, addresses public safety through new gun laws and the establishment of new school safety criteria. School safety provisions include the appointment of school resource officers ("SRO"), strengthened school medical emergency response plans, the development of a "safe and supportive schools" framework, and the creation of an 18-member Safe and Supportive Schools Commission (see attached). The first meeting of the meeting of the Commission was convened on December 19, 2014. A more detailed list, which shows next steps required of districts or schools, and the Department, follows. Several of these provisions are subject to appropriation, i.e., they are not binding unless funded.

Requirements for Districts and Schools (some are subject to appropriation):

  • By vote of its school committee, any city, town, or school district may implement the safe and supportive schools framework, subject to appropriation.

  • As part of the school's medical emergency response plan1 , schools practice the plan's emergency response sequence at the beginning of each school year and periodically throughout the year; the new requirement requires review of the response sequence with local fire and police officials at least one time each year and periodic walk-throughs of school campuses.

  • School districts, all charter schools, education collaboratives, and approved day or residential schools develop and, as necessary and appropriate, implement a plan to address: 1) the general mental health needs of students, families, teachers, and administrators, and 2) the potential need for emergency and acute treatment of students, including as a result of a triage or crisis within the district or school; review and update the plan annually before September 1.

  • The chief of police, in consultation with the superintendent, assigns at least one SRO to serve the city, town, commonwealth charter school, regional school district or county agricultural school, subject to appropriation; if an SRO cannot be assigned due to limited resources, the chief must talk with the State Police to ensure the assignment of an SRO, subject to appropriation.

  • Public schools, including all charter schools, and education collaboratives, subject to appropriation, possess and have access to a two-way communication device that is used solely for communicating with police and fire departments during an emergency situation.

  • Public school districts and commonwealth charter schools provide suicide awareness and prevention training every three years to all licensed school personnel, subject to appropriation, in accordance with Department regulations.

Requirements for Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

  • Convene the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission ("Commission") and provide administrative support;
  • Develop a safe and supportive schools framework and assessment tool in consultation with the Commission; subject to appropriation, facilitate and oversee implementation of the framework where implemented in schools;
  • Develop suicide prevention training material in collaboration with Department of Public Health;
  • Adopt regulations addressing:
    • The assignment of school resource officers (SRO) (see above);
    • The obligation of every school district, charter school, education collaborative, and approved day or residential school2 to have a plan to address mental health needs of students, families, teachers, and administrators (see above);
    • The obligation to provide suicide prevention training every three years to licensed school personnel (see above).

As required by the new law, I expect to present proposed regulations to the Board sometime this spring.

Safe and Supportive Schools Commission

  • Mitchell D. Chester - Commissioner of Education or Designee

  • James Peyser - Secretary of Education or Designee

  • John Doherty - Massachusetts Association of School Superintendent

  • B. Ellen Holmes - Massachusetts Association of School Committees

  • Tom Cavanaugh - Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators' Association

  • Amy Kelly - Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association

  • Jean Fay - Massachusetts Teachers Association

  • Angela Cristiani- American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts

  • Richard Whitehead- Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education

  • William Diehl, Ed. D.-Massachusetts Organization of Education Collaboratives

  • Andrea Amador - Massachusetts School Psychologists Association

  • Donna M. Brown - Massachusetts School Counselors Association

  • Judith Styer - Massachusetts School Nurse Organization MSNO

  • Susan Cole - Massachusetts Advocates for Children MAC

  • Anne Silver - Parent/Professional Advocacy League;

  • Catherine Senior / Joe Grochmal State Student Advisory Council - SSAC

  • Melissa Pearrow - Behavioral Health and Public Schools Evaluator

  • Sara Burd - Behavioral Health and Public Schools Implementer

  • TBD - Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

  • TBD - Children's Behavioral Health Initiative Service Provider


Last Updated: January 23, 2015
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