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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 Director
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
StevensonLauraMA School Administrators’ Association (MSAA)Principal, Holbrook Middle-High School
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

Note: All times are 10am–1pm, unless where otherwise noted. If planning to attend a meeting, please email achievement@doe.mass.edu.

  • Monday, January 7, 2019: Shrewsbury Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave. (New Selectmen's Room)
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    1/7/19 Minutes

  • Monday, February 11, 2019: Shrewsbury Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave. (Old Selectmen's Room)
  • Thursday, April 4, 2019: Shrewsbury Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave. (Old Selectmen's Room)
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2019: Shrewsbury Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave. (Old Selectmen's Room)
  • Wednesday, July 24, 2019 (likely 10am–3pm)): location to be confirmed (likely Malden or Cambridge)
  • Monday, October 7, 2019: DESE, 75 Pleasant St., Malden
  • Monday, November 18, 2019: DESE, 75 Pleasant St., Malden

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
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Minutes (11/5/18) — Malden

Public Comment Opportunities

The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission (Commission) welcomes public comment on matters within its purview. Accordingly, the Commission makes available a maximum 15-minute period at its regular meetings for persons in the audience to address the Board for no longer than 3 minutes. Written material of any length may be submitted and will be distributed to Commission members for their consideration. Agendas for upcoming Commission meetings are generally posted 5 days prior to the meeting on this page. Persons wishing to speak are strongly encouraged to submit their request before the day of the meeting; contact information is provided below. Preference will be given to those who submit requests by 5:00 p.m. on the fourth business day preceding the meeting (e.g., by Thursday if the meeting is on the following Tuesday). If time permits, the Commission co-chairs will allow members of the public who have not contacted the Department in advance to speak in the public comment period; those individuals must sign in prior to the start of the meeting. The co-chairs may limit the number of speakers due to time constraints and may increase or reduce the time allocated per speaker. While there is no requirement to submit written testimony, a speaker who elects to do so should submit 20 copies of the testimony prior to or at the meeting for distribution to Commission members. Requests to address the Commission, written testimony, and other inquiries may be transmitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or telephone to: Massachusetts Safe and Supportive Schools Commission, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, ATTN: Rachelle Engler Bennett, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, Phone: 781-338-3205, Fax: 781-338-3090, E-mail: renglerbennett@doe.mass.edu.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an affirmative action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Inquiries regarding the Department's compliance with Title IX and other civil rights laws may be directed to the Human Resources Director, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148, phone: 781-338-6105.

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: February 13, 2019
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