The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on the Massachusetts Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
December 9, 2011

At the September 2011 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I provided the Board with the Executive Summary and Final Report of the Task Force on Behavioral Health and Public Schools, which was submitted to the Governor, General Court, and the Child Advocate pursuant to Section 19 of chapter 321 of the Acts of 2008, An Act Relative to Children's Mental Health. Subsection (a) of Section 19 reads in part as follows:

There shall be a task force on behavioral health and public schools… to build a framework to promote collaborative services and supportive school environments for children, to develop and pilot an assessment tool based on the framework to measure schools' capacity to address children's behavioral health needs, to make recommendations for using the tool to carry out a statewide assessment of schools' capacity, and to make recommendations for improving the capacity of schools to implement the framework.

The Task Force made recommendations in the following nine areas:

  1. Coordinated Message from State Leadership
  2. Statewide Implementation of Framework
  3. Establishment of [Entity] on Schools and Behavioral Health
  4. Establishing the Framework and Assessment Tool in Law
  5. Technical Assistance from ESE
  6. Using the Framework for Coordinating Initiatives and Support
  7. Professional Development
  8. Phased-in Implementation
  9. Staffing Implementation at the School and District Levels

The Executive Summary of the Task Force report, which includes the nine recommendations, is enclosed for your reference. The Executive Summary is also posted on the Department's website. A list of Task Force members is also enclosed.

The Task Force report holds great promise to help schools and districts establish and maintain safe, healthy, and supportive learning environments to increase the success of all students. I support the majority of the recommendations for statewide use of the Framework contained in the report and believe they will go a long way toward helping more students succeed in school. However, as I state in the report, I have reservations about some of the recommendations based upon my judgment that the burden for schools and districts likely will outweigh the benefit for students.

I wish to acknowledge all Task Force members and others for their significant dedication and contributions. We are committed to this work on behalf of the students in the Commonwealth's schools. At this month's meeting, Associate Commissioner John Bynoe and I will review the recommendations and update the Board on the Department's work in this important area.


Download Word Document
Executive Summary of Behavioral Health and Public Schools Task Force Report (August 2011)
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
List of Task Force members