School Board President Leads Action to Dismantle Systemic Trauma

May 10, 2018 |  BY: KATIE PAETZ M.Ed.

At the Osborn Governing School District board meeting, on March 20, 2018, the Phoenix, AZ-located board approved a resolution supporting trauma-informed practices in their district.  Over the past three years the board studied Adverse Childhood Experiences, reviewed discipline and achievement data, and heard first hand accounts from school leadership and teachers about the needs of students in their community.

The resolution states, “the Osborn Elementary School District Governing Board commits to crafting policies that institutionalize trauma-informed practices; and commits to supporting the training of teachers and support staff on trauma-informed practices and investing in social-emotional curricula.”

“It’s my hope that the resolution garners attention, partnerships and funding so that our students can get the best education in Osborn. As a district, we are dedicated to trauma-informed practices and teaching resilience in a manner that is supported by science. At this point, we need our state and national leaders to catch up to the classroom.” says Katie Paetz, Osborn Governing Board President.

The resolution ends, “Furthermore, the Governing Board of the Osborn Elementary School District directs the Superintendent to foster partnerships with community groups and education services agencies that commit to trauma-informed practices and restorative justice. Finally, the Osborn Elementary School District Governing Board urges the Arizona Department of Education, the Arizona State Board of Education, and the Arizona State Legislature to fund and support programs that include restorative justice, trauma-informed practices, social-emotional wellness, and mental health services.”



Katie Paetz shared with us how Origins training has impacted her work as an educator. In addition to her hat as an elementary school teacher, Katie serves on the school board of Osborn School District #8 in Phoenix, Arizona and served as the president of the board from 2016-2018. After learning about the impact of trauma and toxic stress through trainings with Origins, she led the board through the passage of a Resolution on Trauma Informed Practices. Recognizing the inequities throughout the district and how trauma can impact learning, the resolution summarizes the district’s commitment to adopting policies that institutionalize trauma-informed practices, supporting the training of teachers and staff on trauma-informed practices, and investing in social-emotional curricula.

Katie shared how the resolution provides a foundation for additional measures that further supports the divestment of programs that are historically oppressive and investment in programs that support healing-centered schools. As an example, in response to two instances of students who were handcuffed in the Osborn district (including a third-grader that was handcuffed by a school resource officer in 2016), the board passed a policy to ban the use of handcuffs with students in 2018. That same year, the district ended it’s School Resource Officer program. In addition, the resolution prioritized the investment of social-emotional learning, anti-racist professional development, and ethnic studies curriculum during the recent shutdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis.