Title 16

Chapter 21
Health and Safety of Pupils

R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-21-40

§ 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) Schoolwide 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 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.

History of Section.
P.L. 2022, ch. 396, § 1, effective June 30, 2022; P.L. 2022, ch. 397, § 1, effective June 30, 2022.