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Safe & Supportive Schools

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Safe and Supportive Schools Commission

The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission (Commission) was created as part of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework Law (Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 69, section 1P), through An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence. Chapter 284 of the Acts of 2014 was signed into law on August 13, 2014 (House Bill 4376).

Commission Reports

Annual Reports to the Legislature

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Safe and Supportive Schools Commission — Third Annual Report — January 2018
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Safe and Supportive Schools Commission — Second Annual Report — December 2016
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Safe and Supportive Schools Commission — First Annual Report — December 2015

Board Documents

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Safe and Supportive Schools Commission Memo to the Board — January 2018
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Attachment: Outlining Principles of Effective Practice for Integrating Student Supports — January 2018

Focus Group Summary Documents

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Interim Report on Family Engagement (focus group highlights) — March 2017
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Interim Report on Administrative Function Capacity (interview highlights) — March 2017
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Voices of Leaders: Superintendents and School Committee Members (focus group highlights) — Summer 2017
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Memorandum on Focus Group Findings (highlights from focus groups with Parents, Parent Partners, Students, School Liaisons, Advocates, Clinicians, and Professionals) — April 2018

Commission Responsibilities

  • (i) Make recommendations to the DESE board on updating, improving and refining the framework and the self-assessment tool;

  • (ii) Identify strategies for increasing schools' capacity to carry out the administrative functions identified by the behavioral health and public schools task force;

  • (iii) Propose steps for improving schools' access to clinically, culturally and linguistically appropriate services;

  • (iv) Identify and recommend evidenced-based training programs and professional development for school staff on addressing students' behavioral health and creating safe and supportive learning environments;

  • (v) Identify federal funding sources that can be leveraged to support statewide implementation of the framework;

  • (vi) Develop recommendations on best practices for collaboration with families, including families of children with behavioral health needs; and

  • (vii) Examine and recommend model approaches for integrating school action plans, required under subsection (e), with school improvement plans and for using the framework to organize other school and district improvement processes.

Also:

  • Consult with and solicit input from various persons and groups, including, but not limited to other state agencies and any other parties or entities the Commission deems appropriate; and

  • Prepare and submit Annual Reports to the legislature by the end of each December outlining Commission activities and appropriate recommendations, with related drafts of legislation necessary to carry out such recommendations, if any. The first three reports shall include recommendations regarding topics related to ii-v above.


Relationship to Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework

  • The Safe and Supportive Schools Framework Law also directs the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop a safe and supportive schools framework and self-assessment tool, consistent with those created by the Behavioral Health and Public Schools (BHPS) Task Force (per section 19 of Chapter 321 in 2008). (See Behavorial Health and Public Schools Self-Assessment Tool for Schools for the current version of the framework and tool.)

  • The Commission is established to collaborate with and advise DESE on the feasibility of state-wide implementation of the framework.


Safe and Supportive Schools Defined

(Section 1P) … Schools that foster a safe, positive, healthy & inclusive whole-school learning environment that:

  • enables students to develop positive relationships with adults and peers, regulate their emotions and behavior, achieve academic and non-academic success in school and maintain physical and psychological health and well-being; and

  • integrates services and aligns initiatives that promote students' behavioral health, including social and emotional learning, bullying prevention, trauma sensitivity, dropout prevention, truancy reduction, children's mental health, foster care and homeless youth education, inclusion of students with disabilities, positive behavioral approaches that reduce suspensions and expulsions and other similar initiatives.


Current Members

Last Name (Alphabetically Listed)First NameDistrict / Agency / Role RepresentedTitle
AdamsBrandonState Student Advisory CouncilStudent, Norfolk County Agricultural High School
AmadorAndriaMA School Psychologists Association (MSPA)MSPA Immediate Past President; Boston Public Schools — Assistant Dir., Special Education & Related Services — Comprehensive Student Support Services
AnastasioBrian State Student Advisory CouncilStudent, Blue Hills Regional Technical High School
BennettRachelle Engler MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE)Commission Co-Chair (DESE Designee); DESE Associate Commissioner, Student and Family Support
BrownDonna M. MA School Counselors Association (MASCA)MASCA Executive Secretary
BurdSara Arlington Public Schools, Practitioner of the FrameworkArlington Public Schools Director of Social Emotional Learning
ColeSusan MA Advocates for Children (MAC)MAC Senior Project Director, Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative
Daniel MargieMA Chapter of the National Association of Social WorkersSocial Worker, and Executive Director, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth
DiehlWilliam MA Organization of Education Collaboratives (MOEC)MOEC Board of Directors Regional Representative; Collaborative for Educational Services Executive Director
DohertyJohnMA Association of School Superintendents (MASS)Commission Co-Chair (Selected by Commission Members); Superintendent, Reading Public Schools
East-TrouHenry JulioRepresentative of a community-based organization (CBO) that provides services as part of the Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI), and that provides mental health services in schoolsExecutive Director, Gandara Center
HolmesEllenMA Association of School Committees (MASC)MASC Regional School Committee Chair; Ashburnham-Westminster Reg. School Committee Member
LipinksiMichelleRepresentative of Mass. Recovery High Schools with expertise in adolescent substance use disordersPrincipal, Northshore Recovery High School
LipperKatherineSecretary of Education (EOE Designee)General Counsel, MA Executive Office of Education
PearrowMelissaUniversity of MA - Boston, Former BHPS Taskforce Member and Tool Developer/EvaluatorAssociate Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
StyerJudithMA School Nurse Organization (MSNO) MSNO President; Framingham Public Schools Director of Health and Wellness
WhiteheadRichard MA Administrators for Special Education (ASE)Wayland Public Schools Director of Student Services


Commission Meetings

2019 Commission meeting dates

If planning to attend a meeting, please email achievement@doe.mass.edu.

Note: Locations will be posted once confirmed. All times are expected to be 10am–1pm, unless where otherwise noted.

  • Monday, January 7, 2019
  • Thursday, April 4, 2019
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019
  • Wednesday, July 24, 2019 (likely 10am–3pm)
  • Monday, October 7, 2019
  • Monday, November 18, 2019

2018 Commission Meeting Minutes

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Minutes (1/30/18) — Malden
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Minutes (4/25/18) — Malden
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Minutes (6/1/18) — Shrewsbury
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Minutes (8/1/18) — Cambridge
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Minutes (10/4/18) — Shrewsbury
 
Minutes (11/5/18) — Malden — to be posted once approved in January 2019

Contact Information

Rachelle Engler Bennett, Commission Co-Chair (DESE Designee); Associate Commissioner, Student and Family Support (SFS), renglerbennett@doe.mass.edu / 781-338-3205.

John F. Doherty, Ed.D., Commission Co-Chair (Selected by Commission Members); Superintendent, Reading Public Schools, john.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us / 781-944-5800.



Last Updated: November 14, 2018
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