6th Annual Safe and Healthy School Summit to address safe and respectful school climates


Ways of cultivating a respectful school climate and the legal obligations that schools have to provide a safe educational environment are the themes of the Office of Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan’s 6th Annual Safe and Healthy School Summit, Thursday, Oct. 26.

The NWDA is teaming up with SPIFFY Coalition, Communities that Care and other community partners to present this year’s conference, to be held at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Preregistration is required.

Previous Summits have examined campus security threats, healthy relationships and teen dating violence, bullying and youth mental health among other subjects.

“Creating and maintaining a healthy school climate that allows all children to feel connected and to thrive could not be a more timely topic,” Sullivan said.

Participants will consider the many unintended consequences of unsafe school climates and examine why creating a safe climate for all students helps every student be more receptive to learning, fostering a healthy community for the entire school population.

This year’s speakers are Michael Joyce, an attorney specializing in general education and special education law in public schools; and Sara Whitcomb, an associate professor and director of clinical tranining in the School Psychology Program at UMass Amherst. 

Joyce is a former public school teacher. As former a civil rights attorney for the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, he conducted investigations and trainings around New England on civil rights concerns in public schools, including federal statutes relating to harassment and discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, and age.

Whitcomb developed an advanced practicum experience in which she and her doctoral students provide training and support related to school-based mental health efforts and positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) to approximately 30 schools in area school districts.