House passes Rep. Casimiro’s bill that helps school communities deal with unexpected deaths
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today passed the Nathan Bruno, Jason Flatt, and Alicia Biros Bereavement Act (2023-H 5222A), sponsored by Rep. Julie A. Casimiro, which would direct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop suggested protocols in response to the death of a student, teacher, or other staff member at a school.
Rep. Casimiro serves as the Chairwoman of the House Oversight Children and Families Subcommittee. She also serves on the House Education Committee.
“I have been substituting at North Kingstown High School for the past few years and I have seen firsthand the trauma and sadness that affects the entire school community when one of our own unexpectedly passes away. Combine this with the already high levels of fear, stress and uncertainty affecting our students’ mental health, and our kids, as well as staff, need the appropriate tools to deal with tragic situations that may arise throughout the school year. We need to do everything we can to help our students deal with grief in healthy ways so they may continue to learn and grow and this bill will do just that,” said Representative Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter).
The procedures and protocols that would be suggested by the legislation would include procedures to be followed for students, teachers, administrators, and other staff that are responsive to the school environment and the situation; the availability of grief counseling that is developmentally appropriate for the student population; the availability of grief counseling for teachers, administrators and other staff; and procedures for teachers, administrators, and other staff to respond in developmentally appropriate ways to students that are affected by the death in the school community.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) has introduced a similar bill (2023-S 0181).