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The Department has moved to 135 Santilli Highway in Everett. The Department's office and Licensure Welcome Center are open. The new location has free parking and is a short walk from the Wellington station on the MBTA's Orange Line.
Student and Family Support (SFS)

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

Board Documents

Focus Group Summaries and Other Documents

Related to increasing schools' access to clinically, culturally and linguistically appropriate services:

Related to students' perspectives:

Related to effective school practices for collaboration with families:

Related to increasing schools' capacity to carry out the administrative functions required to implement the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework

Commission Responsibilities

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

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

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

  • 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;

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

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

  • 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.


  • 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.

Safe and Supportive Schools Framework and Self-Reflection Tool

  • 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).

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

  • The current, updated draft version of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework and Self-Reflection Tool is being piloted during the 2020-2021 school year.

  • All are invited to watch a video about the updated draft, view (and/or use) the current version, and provide feedback. We are very interested in your feedback; please see this feedback instructions page or email DESE's Office of Student and Family Support via for more details.

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

Note: Commission members are appointed by entities as outlined in G.L., c.69, §.1P.

Last Name
(Alphabetically Listed)
First Name
Agency / Role RepresentedTitle
AinsworthUlanaAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT-MA) / MA Teachers Association (MTA)Fifth Grade Teacher, Roger Clap Elementary, Boston Public Schools
AmadorAndriaMA School Psychologists Association (MSPA)MSPA Immediate Past President; Boston Public Schools — Assistant Dir., Special Education & Related Services — Comprehensive Student Support Services
BennettRachelle Engler
MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)Commission Co-Chair (DESE Designee); DESE Associate Commissioner, Student and Family Support
BrownDonna M. MA School Counselors Association (MASCA)MASCA Executive Director
BrewsterEdveretteMA School Administrators Association (MSAA)Leadership Coach, Lynch Leadership Academy, Boston College
MA Administrators for Special Education (ASE)Director of Student Services, Ayer Shirley Regional Schools
MA Chapter of the National Association of Social WorkersSocial Worker, and Executive Director, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth
del RosarioMarissaMA Advocates for Children (MAC)Trauma-Sensitive Schools Specialist, Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative
MA Association of School Superintendents (MASS)Commission Co-Chair (Selected by Commission Members); Retired Superintendent, Reading Public Schools; MASS Professional Development Committee Chair
FarrellSusanMA Organization of Education Collaboratives (MOEC)Central Mass Collaborative Executive Director
GoldHeidiSecretary of Education (EOE Designee)Senior Policy Manager, MA Executive Office of Education (EOE)
MA Association of School Committees (MASC)MASC Regional School Committee Chair; Ashburnham-Westminster Reg. School Committee Member
Representative of Mass. Recovery High Schools with expertise in adolescent substance use disordersPrincipal, Northshore Recovery High School
NegronRaquelParent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL)Family Support Specialist
Student Member, appointed by the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC)GSA State Student Leadership Council Member and Concord-Carlisle High School Junior
PearrowMelissaFormer BHPS Taskforce Member and Tool Developer/EvaluatorExecutive Director of the Behavioral Health Integrated Resources for Children (BiRCH) Project, and Associate Professor of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development, UMass Boston
MA School Nurse Organization (MSNO)Northeast Regional School Nurse Consultant at Haverhill Public Schools
Representative from a CBO that provides services as part of CBHI and that provides mental health services in schools.Executive Vice President, Behavioral Health and Community Services, BAMSI (Brockton)

Commission Meetings

2023 Commission Meeting Minutes

2024 Meeting Dates

Note: If planning to attend a meeting, please email at least 2 weekdays in advance. Meetings will be held virtually, until further notice. Meeting minutes may also be requested via that same email address.

Note: All 2024 meetings will be 1:00–3:00pm except where otherwise noted

  • Tuesday, February 6, 2024
  • Tuesday, March 19, 2024
  • Thursday, May 9, 2024
  • July/August Summer Retreat — likely 10am–3pm, in person, date to be confirmed
  • Tuesday, October 1, 2024
  • Thursday, November 14, 2024

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, 135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149, Phone: 781-338-3205, Fax: 781-338-3090, E-mail: .

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, 135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149, phone: 781-338-6105.

Contact Information

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

John F. Doherty, Ed.D., Commission Co-Chair (Selected by Commission Members); Retired Superintendent, Reading Public Schools; MASS Professional Development Committee Chair,

Last Updated: February 20, 2024

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.