Student advocacy pays off: Mass State legislature funds An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools

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For the Children who "Fell Through the Cracks"

Trauma Team (HLB Fall 2014) Credit: Luke Best

For the past 10 years, students and faculty of the HLS Education Law Clinic have been successfully advocating to get such students back on the education track. And in July 2014, after a yearlong effort, they helped to pass—against great odds—a pioneering Massachusetts law to provide much broader protection for students at risk by supporting schools to do such things as aligning existing anti-bullying and dropout prevention programs, recognizing warning signs of stress, and providing positive reinforcement rather than knee-jerk discipline. Read more.

Students in the Education Law Clinic / Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI) tirelessly worked over the last few months to encourage Massachusetts state legislators to fund An Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools.  

In July, both the House and Senate chambers approved $500,000 for the implementation of the statute.  The funding will allow $400,000 in grants to schools and $100,000 for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to establish safe and supportive learning environments and cultures. The funding will also help schools and districts through provisions for technical assistance, state and regional conferences, and sharing best practices related to the implementation of the framework.

This marks a second victory for TLPI and the students who last August prevailed in having the provisions of the bill enacted into law. The students involved in this year’s effort include: Maya Brodziak `16; Raha Francis `16; Elena Fresquez `16; Catherine Howard `16; and Guillaume Laroche Ed.M. `15.

The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, which is a joint program of the Massachusetts Advocates for Children and Harvard Law School, continues to lead efforts in supporting schools to meet the learning needs of all children. TLPI is also working on a research study to assess school culture outcomes for three schools that are using the Safe and Supportive framework.