Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, Massachusetts 02148-4906 Telephone: (781) 338-3000 TTY: N.E.T. Relay 1-800-439-2370
August 27, 2012Mr. Justin Smith, Education DirectorNew Directions SchoolCutchins Programs for Children and Families, Inc.78 Pomeroy TerraceNorthampton, MA 01060Re:
ESE Response to Cutchins’
Corrective Action of the July 19, 2012Incident involving student D.A. at the New Directions SchoolDear Mr. Smith:Thank you for submitting
corrective actions as described in your response received August 21,2012 pertaining to the July 19, 2012 incident involving student D.A. at the New Directions School. Whileit is evident that a considerable amount of time was allocated to
response, there are portions of the corrective action plan that require clarification.In the initial internal investigation, the Department noted significant operational issues that were systemic.Of serious concern was that Cutchins failed to keep the student safe because back-up procedures to ensureappropriate supervision of students were either not in place, staff was not aware of them, or they werepoorly developed. While the recommendations provided in the Internal Investigation report alluded to thisproblem, the Department requested a detailed, written plan that specifically addressed each of theidentified issues. The staff involved in the incident who used poor judgment and the ensuing disciplinaryactions taken only partially addressed the problem. The greater issue was the absence of proceduresrequired to ensure adequate supervision of students, along with established procedures not having beenadequately understood and/or properly followed by staff, which resulted in a serious breakdown in theoverall operation of the program. Specifically, you were required to examine crisis communication, staff availability and immediate notification.Cutchins responded by submitting a narrative assuring the Department that it takes responsibility for thesafety of students seriously and has examined and revised its policies and procedures. Updated policies
Policy on Communications
Policy on Communications
Policy onImmediate Notification of Serious Incidents
1. The area of crisis communication required immediate examination.
Cutchins was required to provide thoughtful, planned written policies and protocols that ensured the healthand safety of the students at all times. Cutchins was required to decide which options mentioned in itsinternal investigation were chosen to be implemented, develop a specific plan based on these decisions,generate protocols so that the plan had minimally three back-up strategies, and train all staff, regular andsubstitute, in the details of the plan as soon as possible.