The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission

The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission was established as part of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework law (link opens pdf of law), which has now been codified  in M.G.L Chap 69 Sec 1P, Safe and supportive schools framework  (link opens pdf of the Massachusetts General Laws).

The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission Seventh Annual Report is now available.  To view the report, please click here.

This Commission plays a critical role in fulfilling the law’s vision of supporting schools across the Commonwealth to create safe and supportive school environments that serve as a foundation for learning for all students.  Specifically, it was created to collaborate with and advise the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) on statewide implementation of the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework.

Safe and Supportive Schools Commission: Principles of Effective Practice for Integrating Student Supports – December 2017. This document lays out the principles of how a Safe and Supportive School (SaSS) effectively integrates services that appropriately support individual students.

In addition to its work on the Framework and Self-Assessment Tool, the Commission is also charged by the law with several other specific duties.  These include:

  • identifying strategies to increase schools’ capacity to carry out the administrative functions involved in creating safe and supportive school environments;
  • proposing steps to improve schools’ access to clinically, culturally and linguistically appropriate services for their students;
  • identifying and recommending evidenced-based training and professional development for school staff on creating safe and supportive learning environments;
  • identifying federal funding sources that can be leveraged to support statewide implementation of the framework;
  • developing recommendations on best practices for collaborating with families; and
  • examining and recommending model approaches for integrating Safe and Supportive Schools action plans into already existing school improvement plans and for using the Framework to organize school and district improvement plans.

The law requires many important education stakeholder groups to appoint members to serve on the Commission.  Currently, the members include:

  • Madeline Aviles-Hernandez, Gandara Center
  • Andria Amador, MA School Psychologists Association
  • Joel Khattar, Parent Professional Advocacy League
  • Jack Kamataris, State Student Advisory Council
  • Donna Brown, Massachusetts School Counselors Association
  • Ellen Holmes, Massachusetts Association of School Committees
  • John Doherty, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
  • Cathy Riccio, Massachusetts School Nurse Organization
  • Ulana Ainsworth, AFT MA/MA Teachers Association
  • Heidi Gold, Secretary of Education (Executive Office of Education Designee)
  • Margie Daniels, MA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
  • Melissa Pearrow, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Former BHPS Taskforce Member and Tool Developer/Evaluator
  • Michelle Lipinski, Representative of Mass. Recovery High Schools with expertise in adolescent substance use disorders
  • Rachelle Engler Bennett, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • John Salovardos, Massachusetts Administrators for Special Education
  • Edverette Brewster, MA School Administrators Association (MSAA)
  • Sara Burd, Reading Public Schools, Practitioner of the Framework
  • Marissa del Rosario, Massachusetts Advocates for Children
  • Susan Farrell, Massachusetts Organization of Educations Collaboratives
  • Beverly Williams, Representative from a CBO that provides services as part of CBHI and that provides mental health services in schools.

The co-chairs of the Commission are the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education’s designee, Rachelle Engler Bennett and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Representative, John Doherty .  The Commission meets regularly and all meetings are open to the public. For more information, visit the Safe and Supportive Schools page on DESE’s website.

The Safe and Supportive Schools Commission will meet 6-8 times per year.  Meeting dates and locations are posted on the Safe and Supportive Schools page on the DESE website.