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Here’s who will sit on the R.I. trauma-informed schools commission

A bill requiring the R.I. Department of Education to come up with a plan for all public schools to implement what’s known as trauma-informed practices was the brainchild of former state representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, shown here in the R.I. House Chamber in 2021, and state Senator Sandra Cano.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Better late than never.

Rhode Island lawmakers approved legislation last year requiring the Department of Education to come up with a plan for all public schools to implement what’s known as trauma-informed practices -- tools that help teachers and administrators care for the social and emotional needs of students as well as the academic, particularly those students who have had troubled childhoods.

The department was supposed to appoint a 12-member trauma-informed schools commission by Sept. 30, 2022, but that didn’t happen.

Until tonight.

At its 5:30 p.m. meeting, the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education will meet to consider these appointees:


  • Sandra Lopes, chief equity and diversity officer at RIDE
  • Sarah Courtemanche, chief of teaching and learning for Pawtucket schools
  • Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals
  • Katelyn Medeiros, interim state child advocate
  • Paige Clausius Parks, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count
  • Dr. Gregory Fox, Rhode Island American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Darlene Allen, president of Adoption RI
  • Dr. Marge Paccione, Bradley Hospital and Brown University
  • Vivian Acevedo, Met School
  • Kayla David, Family Service of Rhode Island
  • Dale Folan, Providence schools
  • Rebecca Boxx, Rhode Island Children and Youth Cabinet

The bill was the brainchild of former state representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell and state Senator Sandra Cano. Ranglin-Vassell didn’t seek reelection last year, but she has been urging state leaders to follow through and appoint members of the commission.

The mental health of children has received increased attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week found that 57 percent of teenage girls said they felt persistent sadness in 2021, and 30 percent considered attempting suicide.

”High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma. These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive,” Dr. Debra Houry, chief medical officer at the CDC, said in a press release. “Proven school prevention programs can offer teens a vital lifeline in these growing waves of trauma.”

The state’s trauma-informed schools commission is expected to meet four times during the current fiscal year and four times next year. It is supposed to submit an interim report to state leaders by March 1, but that appears unlikely at this point.

This story first appeared in Rhode Map, our free newsletter about Rhode Island that also contains information about local events, data about the coronavirus in the state, and more. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.


Dan McGowan can be reached at Follow him @danmcgowan.