Advocates wanted to restore straightforward mandates for reporting, investigation, discipline, and notification of law enforcement and parents. There was resistance to that approach. So instead we suggested and they agreed to add a requirement that schools adhere to the plans which are required to be developed and cover the subject areas mentioned. Moreover, the regulatory authority to the DESE was fleshed out to ensure it would accommodate strong reporting requirements, from staff to administrators, and from administrators to parents. The DESE was given a September 30, 2010 deadline to promulgate the regulations.
In collaboration with the Mass. Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State College, advocates worked to develop no cost training options that made mandatory training sustainable. (State law interdicts unfunded mandates imposed by the legislature on cities and towns.) This information supported an amendment, sponsored by openly lesbian Rep. Sarah Peake, to make staff training mandatory. Legislators insisted on additional time for DESE to work out no or low cost training options for school districts, so implementation was set for the 2011-2012 school year.
Now the bill goes to conference committee, where we will be fighting hard to keep the training mandate. We are expecting this process to get underway as early as next week, with a clear desire by the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Education Committee to move expeditiously.
While over 50 organizations endorsed the legislation, 6 groups took the lead in the intensive advocacy on Beacon Hill. The lead advocate was the Anti-Defamation League, with the collaboration of the Mass. Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, Mass Equality, the Anti-Violence Project/Join the Impact MA, and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. Special shout-outs go to Derek Shulman and Rob Trestan of the ADL, Arline Isaacson of the Caucus, Scott Gortikov and DeeDee Edmonson of Mass=, and Sam Bickett, Karen Loewy, and Nima Eshghi of GLAD.