For Immediate Release

Boston, MA, April 19, 2016 – Executive Director Joan Meschino of the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice has won the Democratic primary in the special election for the open State Senate seat in the Plymouth and Norfolk district. In the wake of her victory, Meschino resigned her post as Executive Director effective immediately. Meschino had been on a leave of absence during her primary run.

The Board of Directors of Massachusetts Appleseed extends its thanks and recognition to Meschino for her leadership over the past eight years. During Meschino’s tenure, Massachusetts Appleseed has championed due process rights and equal treatment for children who are suspended and expelled from school, access to education for homeless children, and access to justice for underserved populations. Board Chair Martha Mazzone said, “We at Massachusetts Appleseed are grateful for Joan’s tireless and effective work on behalf of the Center and the citizens of the Commonwealth. Joan is leaving our Center stronger than she found it. Through Joan’s leadership, we are on a clear path for continuing to serve the community by seeking systemic solutions to social justice issues.”

The Board of Directors of Massachusetts Appleseed wishes Meschino the very best in her future endeavors and thanks her for many years of friendship and service.

About MA Appleseed

MA Appleseed’s mission is to promote equal rights and opportunities for Massachusetts residents by developing and advocating for systemic solutions to social justice issues. At MA Appleseed, we dedicate ourselves to remedying social injustices for at-risk and underserved children, youth, and adults. Working with volunteer lawyers, community partners, and others, we identify and address gaps in services and opportunities in areas such as education, homelessness, and the court system. Through in-depth research, community problem-solving, and consensus building, we develop powerful solutions that reform systems and structures.

2016 “Building Positive School Climates” Conference

MA Appleseed hosted its third “Building Positive School Climates” conference on April 11th, 2016 at Clark University in Worcester. The conference drew a diverse audience of over 200 people from across the state to discuss implementation of the new school discipline law and learn about alternatives to exclusionary zero tolerance policies. Remarks from high-ranking state leaders such as Chief Justice of the Juvenile Courts Amy Nechtem and Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester signaled a significant, multi-sector state-level commitment to school discipline reform, and poignant remarks from Worcester youth inspired many in the audience to consider incorporating Restorative Practices into their work. Overall, participants left feeling encouraged by some of the progress being made in the area of school discipline reform, and equipped with new networks and tools to help them continue this difficult but important work going forward.

Conference materials:

Conference Agenda
Speaker Bios
Presentation Abstracts

Keynote Address:
The Power of Mindsets: Creating a Positive School Climate
Dr. Robert Brooks

Plenary Presentation Materials:
School Discipline in Massachusetts: A Look at the 2015 Data
Rob Curtin, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Youth Perspectives on School Discipline
Carlos Rojas, Rebecca Holland, and Fania Joseph, Youth on Board
The Safe and Supportive Schools Framework
Susan Cole, Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative

Breakout Session Materials:
Deconstructing the School-to-Prison Pipeline: School-Court Collaborations
Honorable Jay D. Blitzman, Middlesex Juvenile Court
Community Schools and Wraparound Zones: Creating a Safe and Supportive Context for Student Success, Wraparound Coordinators, Worcester Public Schools; Dr. Claire Crane and Omar Longus, Center for Community Schools at Salem State University