HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 933        FILED ON: 1/14/2015

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 399


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Paul R. Heroux


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
Court assembled:

The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act to establish a pilot study grant award for strengths-based prevention of bullying events in schools with moderate to high rates of bullying events.






Date Added:

Paul R. Heroux

2nd Bristol


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 933        FILED ON: 1/14/2015

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 399

By Mr. Heroux of Attleboro, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 399) of Paul R. Heroux relative to establishing a pilot study grant award for strengths-based prevention of bullying events in schools with moderate to high rates of bullying events.  Education.


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the One Hundred and Eighty-Ninth General Court



An Act to establish a pilot study grant award for strengths-based prevention of bullying events in schools with moderate to high rates of bullying events.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


To provide for the operation of the executive office of the department of elementary and secondary education the sum set forth in section 2, for the purposes and subject to the conditions specified in section 2, is hereby appropriated from the General Fund unless specifically designated otherwise, subject to the provisions of law regulating the disbursement of public funds and the approval thereof.



8100-XXXX For a grant program to be known as the Strengths-Based Bullying Prevention Pilot program established pursuant to and conditioned on the requirements set forth in a Chapter 284 relating to gun violence prevention and citing a earlier legislation from Chapter 69, Section 10, Subsection 1P/(ii) regarding safe schools and support for traumatized students, ……….……. $690,000


Chapter 6 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 116F the following section:-


(a) As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings: “Grant contract”, contract awarded in accordance with this section to 15 schools and a vendor(s) by the Massachusetts Department of Education, through the Office of External Partnerships and/or the Office of Tiered System of Supports. “MASS DOE”, the Massachusetts Department of Education

“School bullying events”, intermediate-level school threats by means hateful or insensitive behavior towards a person, group, or gender. “Pilot study grant for strengths-based reduction of bullying events in schools” or “Pilot program” or “Grant”, grant awarded by EOPSS to 15 qualifying schools to fund a grant contract. “Moderate to high rates of bullying events”, annual rate of documented bullying events in schools defined as moderate to high if greater than 20% of school population as set forth individually from each applicant school. “Documented bullying events”, negative interpersonal behavior between students or from students to adults (teasing, bullying, fighting, name-calling, and related events) which result in referrals that school keeps track of on a monthly basis, both in twelve months preceding grant award and during the award “Strengths-Based methodology”, a way to work with students so as to develop and nurture their strongest capabilities. This stands in stark contrast to focusing on the weaknesses or failures of students. Strength-Based methodology is currently used with leaders, including school leaders, and is similarly beneficial for students including distressed students. “Strengths-Based Bullying Prevention Pilot” or “SBBPP”, proposal submitted by a qualifying school to be reviewed by the Office of External Partnerships (OEP) and/or Office of Tiered System of Supports (OTSS) in the Massachusetts Department of Education, for purposes of awarding a grant contract. “Qualifying school”, a school meeting 1 of 5 criteria set forth in subsection (c). “Request for proposals” or “RFP”, request or announcement by the MASS DOE to solicit SBBPPs from schools. “Relationship manager”, a person offering strategic intervention services at a school-level as detailed by subsection (d) to nurture strengths in potentially distressed students and reduce bullying incidences.

(b) The OET and/or OTSS shall establish a SBBPP grant award for the reduction of bullying events to 15 schools for the purpose of recruiting and training school-level relationship managers to reduce bullying events in pilot schools.

(c) Using referrals and suspensions data from the most recent complete year available (the previous 12 calendar months), a school may apply for a moderate to high level of bullying events prevention grant if there were:

(i) referral / suspension rates calculated for each month of previous 12 calendar months aggregated to the individual student level and offense type (i.e. able to depict presence of repeated bullying events);

(ii) referral / suspension data at the local level aggregated to include student ethnicity and gender (to depict disproportion and equity based on ethnicity and gender);

(iii) published school discipline rates of greater than 4.5%, which is the Massachusetts’ school-level state average for students disciplined, as defined by the average of Column D of the SSRD Resource Online

(iv) school commitment to track referral and suspension data for the months of the potential grant award and store locally (to be submitted monthly by school grant administrator);

(v) school commitment to not turn away from offering school-level supports in every instance of bullying and related behavior.

(d) A school that qualifies pursuant to subsection (c) may apply for a grant which would pay for a PTE staff member to be named as a “Relationship Manager” for 6 months, who will work at the school level for 30-32 hours per week, with work duties to be set forth in subsection (e). A potential relationship manager (RM) will meet one or more of the following qualifications

(i) Will be a former or displaced educator,

(ii) Will be a former or current military service member who is committed to education and helping students improve

(iii) Has demonstrated understanding of the ideology of offering tiered system of supports to students based upon need

(iv) Has demonstrated interest in nurturing strengths in distressed or at-risk students

Alternatively, a potential school may choose to reassign a current staff member as a RM for the grant period. This is permissible under the grant as long as the RM’s 30 hours per week during the grant, as to be set forth in subsection (e), are able to be completed without intervening other duties.

Also, a school may wish to and/or pay for a PTE staff member RM whom they employ at a deeper level, full-time, both during and/or after the grant as a FTE. It is understandable that schools will aim to increase their own capacity, and if utilizing this grant to add a FTE during a school year is undertaken, it is expected that the RM’s 30 hours per week during the grant, as to be set forth in subsection (e), are able to be completed without intervening other duties.

(e) To be employed as a supervised “Relationship Manager” a potential PTE in a school that is awarded this grant will work for approximately 4 days per week utilizing 6 months of grant funds under the following guidelines. The work of the Relationship Manager will be prescribed by:

(i) Work with school leadership to understand strengths and challenges in student behavior / communication such that the RM will be fully under the supervision and leadership of the building principal;

(ii) Meet with teachers and paraprofessionals to develop classroom alternatives for negative behaviors through utilizing student strengths;

(iii) Interface, interact, and problem-solve with distressed students, both those engaging in negative interpersonal behaviors and those who are recipients of bullying behavior to promote student strengths and positive student interactions;

(iv) Determination of an observable reduction, or not, of bullying events through use of a strengths-based framework, the RM will specifically utilize:

(1) An equity audit conducted with school leadership and staff members, as defined by social justice framework;

(Reference: The work of the Great Lakes Equity Center, Indianapolis, IN)

(2) Strength-based methodology for school leaders and teachers;

(3) Specialized training in employing strength-based methodology with distressed students to nurture their capabilities;

(v) Work week for RM will include 3 to 3 ½ face-to-face hours and added weekly training in an RM group at a rate of ½ to 1 day in group sessions of RMs to align and strengthen their work.

(vi) MASS DOE will manage a vendor in training of RM group in both the 4-day RM orientation session and the weekly ½-1 day weekly RM check-in sessions, to be held in regionally-accessible educational facilities.

(v) The manner in which the strategic, strengths-based interventions are employed will use an evidence-based approach which has facets including, but not limited to:

(1) A weekly accounting of referral and suspension/expulsion events;

(2) A weekly accounting of strengths-based services provided to students;

(3) Graph of overall discipline events during grant award, to be compared with school discipline event prior to grant award;

(vi) The manner in which outcome-based performance metrics shall be assessed by the vendor managed by the MASS DOE shall include:

(1) Anecdotal evidence of climate/culture shift among school leaders;

(2) Anecdotal evidence of climate/culture shift among teachers;

(3) Anecdotal evidence of climate/culture shift among students;

(4) Pre-award and post-award evaluations of student discipline events in school, as compared with 15 matched pair schools to be identified by the MASS DOE and tracked prior to grant and at grant end. Matched pair schools will receive no intervention except that the MASS DOE will be performing a mid-year (i.e. 6-month) check of student discipline;

(5) Include a description of how a return on investment, or ROI, will be completed; provided, however, that the ROI shall include all primary and secondary cost savings considerations and shall indicate how an opportunity cost will be conducted in the event that the intervention does not produce a successful outcome;

(6) Rule out third variables and other confounding variables;

(7) Ensure high internal validity; and

(8) Describe a scientifically rigorous outcome evaluation design using the experimental design or matched pair research design both of which shall be measured in a way worthy of peer review in a top tier academic research journal.

(vii) The manner that a post-review will be completed to determine:

(1) What worked;

(2) What did not work;

(3) What was promising; and

(4) Ways to benefit from the knowledge of successes, failures, analysis of external validity, and potentially unresolved outcomes.

(f) The MASS DOE shall create an RfP for two aspects of the SBBPP that will address the need for a vendor for a full-week Strengths-Based training and for weekly check-in meetings for Relationship Managers that:

(i) Is best able to offer an evidence-based solution that will support distressed students;

(ii) Is best able to implement an evidence-based solution to train RMs in supporting distressed students;

(iii) Is best able to provide a detailed description of how they will track the performance metrics at each school site and manage weekly check-in sessions; or

(iv) Has the most relevant experience in offering supports to school personnel in a tiered system of supports that provides assistance related to bullying prevention.

(g) In accordance with the RfP to be created by the MASS DOE, as described in subsection (f), either a single vendor will be chosen for the orientation and weekly check-in trainings, or two separate vendors will be chosen, whichever is most expeditious in the successful completion of the SBBPP. Potential vendors can include, but are not limited to:

(i) The Build Motivation, Great Lakes Training Institute

        872 Eaton Drive

        Mason, Michigan 48854

        (517) 244-0654;

(ii) Rachel’s Challenge, Non-Profit Organization

        Denver , Colorado

        (303) 470-3000;

(iii) Other vendors in MASS DOE’s approved list of organization that provide supportive services to schools and school personal.

(h) The amount of the grant awarded to 15 awarded schools and the MASS DOE for administration shall be:

(i) $33,000 for wages for a school RM, for 15 schools (Total: $465,000)

(ii) $1,000 for school-level administration of an RM (split between HR costs and leadership costs) , for 15 schools (Total: $15,000)

(iii) $7,500 for development of 4-day PD event to start grant award, to be conducted by trainers from Rachel’s Challenge, a strengths-based (3 trainers, $2,500 each includes all costs, Total: $7,500)

(iv) $7,500 for ongoing online training of RMs through online courses of Rachel’s Challenge ($500 per RM, Total: $7,500)

(v) $200,000 for MASS DOE from general funds for overall administration of the SBBPP, including day-to-day functioning, monitoring, and a final public report to be reviewed by the leadership of the MASS DOE. This also includes all indirect costs associated with the management of the SBBPP.

Total SBBPP Cost:  $690,000