Children’s Rights Orgs Amicus Brief Says Criminalizing Burping Goes Too Far. — March 16, 2017

This amicus brief in AM v Holmes asks the Supreme Court to hear a case on behalf of a student who was charged with a crime for burping loudly in class.While we know little of the reasons behind the behavior, advocates across the country from well respected children’s right organizations argue that the precedent established by this 10th Circuit decision upholding the criminal charge, could result in criminalizing behavior that includes: “boredom or insecurity due to a lack of understanding of the material being taught, to hunger, stress, disability, health issues, or unaddressed trauma” LEARN MORE

MA Attorney General Maura Healy and Commissioner of MA Elementary and Secondary Education, Mitchell Chester, affirm rights of immigrant and transgender students. — March 6, 2017

School departments in Massachusetts seek to reassure parents, students, and teachers that protections remain in place for immigrant and transgender students. LEARN MORE

New Orleans Trauma-Sensitive Schools featured in Hechinger Report — February 22, 2017

The Hechinger Report describes New Orleans charter schools’ efforts to ditch the Zero Tolerance model of discipline in favor of trauma-sensitive practices. LEARN MORE

Why We Need Trauma Sensitive Schools Video — December 16, 2016

We are pleased to share our new video “Why We Need Trauma-Sensitive Schools”. This video highlights the importance of leadership—superintendents, assistant superintendents-principals, and educators—in creating the understanding and infrastructure that can support the team work among staff needed to support all children to be successful. LEARN MORE

The Flexible Framework: An Action Plan for Schools — February 24, 2017

The Flexible Framework is an organizational tool that enables schools and districts—in collaboration with families, local community organizations, and outside providers—to maintain a whole school focus as they create trauma sensitive schools. LEARN MORE

In Trauma-Sensitive Schools Leadership and Staff Anticipate and Adapt to the Ever-Changing Needs of Students — December 6, 2016

Educators and administrators in a trauma-sensitive school do their best to adapt to challenges flexibly and proactively so that the equilibrium of the school is maintained despite inevitable shifts and changes. LEARN MORE

Trauma-Sensitive Schools Embrace Teamwork and Share Responsibility for All Students — November 4, 2016

Trauma-sensitive schools help all staff to feel like they are part of a strong and supportive professional community that shares responsibility for each and every child while working as a team to address the impact of trauma on learning. LEARN MORE

Trauma sensitive schools explicitly connect students to the school community — October 13, 2016

In a trauma-sensitive school, the school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to for students to practice newly developing skills. LEARN MORE


Director Susan Cole describes the work of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative and its vision for creating and advocating for trauma-sensitive schools.


The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has publicly released the second annual report of the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission (Commission). The Commission, co-chaired by TLPI’s Director Susan Cole, is established by MGL ch. 69, sec. 1P to “develop a statewide safe and supportive schools framework [and] . . . make recommendations on the feasibility of implementing this framework statewide.”

TLPI is pleased to share this second annual report. The report outlines six recommendations the Commission has made to the Legislature and the Governor in order to make progress on achieving the vision contained in the statute, summarized below:

  1. Continued funding for the Safe and Supportive Schools line item (7061-9612);
  2. State options for providing a sustainable source of funding to enable all schools to create and implement safe and supportive schools;
  3.  A public educational campaign that reaches out to educators, parents, and students throughout the Commonwealth    emphasizing the importance of safe and supportive school cultures.
  4. Department guidance documents to schools and districts regarding the the use of the safe and supportive schools framework and self-assessment tool to schools and districts, including examples of ways can incorporate safe and supportive school goals into their school and district improvement plans;
  5. An ongoing effort to gather information from stakeholders which will inform future recommendations, conducted with assistance from the Department; and
  6. Inclusion by the Department of positive school climate into the Accountability system as part of the newly required ESSA School Quality and Student Success Indicator, and the exploration of potential federal funding sources to further this work, such as through ESSA.

In this upcoming year, the Commission will engage further with stakeholders to inform subsequent recommendations to the DESE Board, Governor, and Legislature. Additionally, the Commission aims to present recommendations to the DESE Board during 2017, with the goal of having the Department post a revised safe and supportive schools framework and self-assessment tool for schools to use during the 2017-2018 school year.


On August 13, 2014,  The Safe and Supportive Schools Framework (MGL Ch 69 Section 1P) was  enacted into law when the Governor  signed the legislature’s omnibus Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence.

For more information about the process of enacting this statute, please see the 2014 article, “Implementing Legal Strategies for Creating Safe and Supportive School Environments”  published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children authored by TLPI Director, Susan Cole.

PDF-downloadClick here to read the full article




To contact the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, click here.

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