Rhode Island School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Trauma-informed Practices

Discipline Compendium

Rhode Island School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Trauma-informed Practices

Category: Prevention, Behavioral Interventions, and Supports
Subcategory: Trauma-informed Practices
State: Rhode Island

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New in 2023

16-21-40. Trauma Informed Schools Act.

(A) Schools play a critical role in addressing and mitigating the effects of child trauma by recognizing the impact of adversity and trauma on students, parents, and staff, and embedding policies and practices that foster well-being and resilience.(B) Through alignment and integration with a multi-tiered system of support frameworks designed to support the academic, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of all students, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall develop a trauma-informed schools implementation plan, as well as necessary administrative guidance, professional development materials, and other resources to enable all elementary and secondary schools to:

(1) Establish and implement trauma-informed practices within all elementary and secondary education schools throughout the state, that:

(i) Promote a shared understanding among teachers, teacher's assistants, school leaders, paraprofessionals, specialized instructional support personnel, and other staff that:

(a) Traumatic experiences are common among students;

(b) Trauma can impact student learning, behavior, and relationships in school;

(c) Traumatic experiences do not inherently undermine the capabilities of students to reach high expectations in academics and life;

(d)  School-wide learning environments, where all students and adults feel safe, welcomed, and supported, can enable students to succeed despite traumatic experiences; and

(e) Services, supports, and programs provided to meet individual student needs should be trauma-informed, where appropriate, and increase student connection to the schoolwide learning environment.

(ii) Adopt disciplinary procedures and practices that:

(a) Accompany disciplinary actions with holistic assessments and positive behavioral interventions and supports to address the underlying causes of student behavior, including trauma;

(b) Avoid harsh, punitive, or exclusionary disciplinary practices;

(c) Utilize evidence-based restorative practices with a focus on behavior modifications and building community, and less punitive or exclusionary practices that erode a culture of trust;

(d) Implement procedures to call skilled mental health personnel when there is a mental health breakdown, and resort to law enforcement only in extreme cases and/or when a student or students are at risk of bodily harm; and

(e) Do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity), disability, English proficiency status, migrant status, or age.

(iii) Implement activities that engage teachers, teacher's assistants, school leaders, paraprofessionals, specialized instructional support personnel, and other staff, in a process of school-based planning to:

(a) Promote a school-wide schoolwide culture of acceptance;

(b) Help all students feel safe and connected to the school community;

(c) Support all students to form positive relationships with adults and peers, understand and manage emotions, achieve success academically and in extracurricular areas, and experience physical and psychological health and well-being;

(d) Promote teamwork and effective communication among all staff and shared responsibility for every student;

(e) Integrate evidence-based practices that build social-emotional skills into rigorous academic instruction;

(f) Support trauma-sensitive and informed approaches to multi-tiered system of supports ("MTSS") function of team-based leadership, tiered delivery system, selection and implementation of instruction and intervention, comprehensive screening and assessment system, and continuous data-based decision-making; and

(g) Recognize and prevent adult implicit bias.

16-21-41. Trauma-Informed Schools Act Commission.

(A) There is hereby established a trauma-informed schools commission (hereinafter the "commission"). The commission shall meet at least quarterly or approximately four (4) times per year in fiscal years 2023 and 2024. It shall expire on June 30, 2024. Members of the commission shall serve without compensation. 

(B) The commission shall be appointed by the council on elementary and secondary education no later than September 30, 2022, and shall be comprised of twelve (12) members: one of whom shall be the commissioner of elementary and secondary education, or designee; one of whom shall be a representative of the RI school superintendents association; one of whom shall be appointed from among the leadership of the state's teachers' unions; one of whom shall be the child advocate; one of whom shall be a representative of a Rhode Island-based institution of higher education with expertise in child development, child mental and behavioral health, trauma-informed educational practices, or a related field; two (2) of whom shall be representatives of youth-serving community-based organizations that provide direct services to youth who have, or are at high risk of experiencing trauma; one of whom shall be a licensed clinical social worker, who primarily works with youth and/or families; one of whom shall be a representative of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; one of whom shall be the executive director of RI Kids Count, or designee; one of whom shall be the president of adoption ri, or designee; and one of whom shall be a representative of an organization that engages and/or supports parents of school-aged children, with priority given to representation from a parent-led organization.

(C) The department of elementary and secondary education shall provide necessary staff and material support to the commission in the furtherance of its purpose.

(D) The purpose of the commission shall be to assist the department of elementary and secondary education with the implementation of the trauma-informed schools act, as set forth in this section and section 16-21-40.

(E) In furtherance of its purpose, the commission shall undertake such actions as it determines appropriate, which shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) Conducting a review and assessment of existing trauma-informed school and community-based resources and initiatives across the state;

(2) Informing the development of a trauma-informed school implementation plan and supporting materials, that shall be submitted to the council on elementary and secondary education for approval no later than April 1, 2024;(3) Researching, identifying, and cataloging state, federal, and philanthropic funding sources that align with the provisions of this section and section 16-21-40;

(4) No later than March 1, 2023, submitting an interim report to the speaker of the house, the president of the senate, and the governor, that provides an update on the commission's initial findings, work plan, and any preliminary recommendations for regulatory or legislative action to promote the implementation oil trauma-informed practices in schools; and

(5) No later than June 30, 2024, submitting a final report to the speaker of the house, the president of the senate, and the governor, that details the commission's findings and recommendations for implementing trauma-informed practices in every elementary and secondary school in Rhode Island.

(F) The commission shall elect a chairperson from its membership. A quorum of the commission at any meeting shall consist of at least seven (7) members.

(G) All departments, boards, and agencies of the state shall cooperate with the commission and forthwith furnish any advice and information, documentary and otherwise, as may be necessary or desirable to facilitate the purposes of this chapter.

(H) The department of education is authorized and directed to provide suitable quarters for commission meetings.

 

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