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Thursday, April 30, 2015

68 MA Legislators Sign Safe and Supportive Schools Budget; TLPI to Co-Chair Commission

From Massachusetts Advocates for Children

April 30, 2015

You answered the call, and so did 68 Representatives, when we asked them to Co-sign Representative Ruth Balser’s budget amendment to support Safe and Supportive Schools funding. This news comes out of MAC’s Trauma & Learning Policy Initiative, where the response is called, “phenomenal!”

Learn more at

Thanks to your help and the extraordinary leadership of Representative Balser, today the House responded by including the line item in its consolidated budget! The next step is to ask the Senators to co-sponsor the line item.

As background, on August 13, 2014, provisions of An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools were enacted into law and signed by the governor as part of the omnibus Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence. These provisions establish a statewide “safe and supportive schools framework” to assist schools to create whole-school safe and supportive learning environments and cultures “that improve educational outcomes for students.”

The law includes a groundbreaking definition of “safe and supportive schools” as,

“… schools that foster a safe, positive, healthy and inclusive whole-school learning environment that (i) 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 (ii) 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.”

The law also provides tools for schools to become safe and supportive, a Safe and Supportive Schools Grant program and a Safe and Supportive Schools Commission to make recommendations to the legislature about implementing the framework statewide. It also provides for the development of a community of practice across the state through conferences, trainings, technical assistance, development of model protocols and more.

Please stay tuned for updates on this legislation, as your participation and outreach to your legislators as we turn to the Senate can help make the difference in keeping the momentum of establishing safe and supportive cultures that benefit all children.

In addition, TLPI will co-chair the Safe & Supportive Schools Commission.

The Trauma & Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), a joint program of MAC and Harvard Law School, continues to forge a leadership role on supporting schools to create whole-school environments that address the needs of all students, including those who have been exposed to traumatic experiences.

This past month, TLPI was selected to co-chair with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission created under new law passed in 2014, “An Act Relative to Safe & Supportive Schools.” Members of the Commission include 19 key stakeholder associations and organizations representing schools and parents across the Commonwealth.

TLPI’s leadership and advocacy over the past 12 years helped lead to the 2014 passage of the landmark legislation, as described in the Fall 2014 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin. The law creates the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework to assist schools in creating environments where all students can learn.

TLPI is working on a research study to assess student and school culture outcomes in three demonstration schools that use TLPI’s inquiry-based process to become trauma-sensitive safe and supportive school environments.


Mike Gregory, Esq.
In other news, TLPI’s Michael Gregory was promoted to Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School, as part of the Education Law Clinic and the Trauma & Learning Policy Initiative, effective in January, 2015. As part of the TLPI Team, Mike is a co-author of both volumes of TLPI”s landmark report, Helping Traumatized Children Learn, and is also a co-author of Educational Rights of Children Affected by Homelessness and/or Domestic Violence, a manual for child advocates.

TPLI will also welcome a new staff person, Colleen Armstrong, to its team, as Lead Organizer/Program Coordinator.

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