HLS students successfully advocate for safe schools law

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For the past year, Harvard Law students in the Education Law Clinic have travelled back and forth to the Massachusetts State House to lobby state legislators to pass an Act Relative to Safe and Supportive Schools.

On August 13, all that work paid off, when Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Safe and Supportive Schools provisions into law. In recognition of the link between safe and supportive school environments and the reduction of school violence, the legislature incorporated these provisions into its omnibus Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence.

“Gun violence can be prevented if schools address the needs of all students appropriately and at an early age,” said Susan Cole, director of the Education Law Clinic. “Including the Safe and Supportive provisions in the gun violence law will position Massachusetts to become a national leader in creating innovative and effective approaches to reducing gun violence while simultaneously improving academic success. The Safe and Supportive Schools Framework is the missing piece that schools have been needing.”

“We are so proud of the work our students did this past spring,” said Michael Gregory, assistant clinical professor of law.  “By the time the bill was signed we had 96 confirmed legislative supporters of Safe and Supportive Schools; that’s almost half the members.  Our students played a huge role in generating this level of support.”  The clinic students who advocated for the bill were Spencer Churchill ’15, Christina Gilligan ’14, Priyanka Gupta ’15, David Li ’15 and Harrison Polans ’15.

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