May Institute’s Dr. Robert Putnam Addresses Importance of Mental Health Supports for Students on National Panel with DOJ


Randolph, Mass. – Robert Putnam, Ph.D., L.P., LABA, BCBA-D, May Institute’s Executive Vice President of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Consultation, recently served on a panel with other national educational experts that focused on mental health supports for students – particularly those with disabilities and those in marginalized populations. 
Dr. Putnam was invited to participate in the event by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Educational Services Civil Rights Division. His fellow panelists included Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the DOJ; Suzanne Goldberg, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Office of Civil Rights; Sharon Hoover, Co-Director, National Center for School Mental Health, and a school principal from Atlanta who is very focused on trauma-based therapy and was named the 2021 School Counselor of the Year in Missouri. 

“The audience for this panel discussion consisted of policymakers and enforcement professionals at the DOE Office of Civil Rights Division as well as DOJ Civil Rights division,” Dr. Putnam said. “According to event organizers, there is always competition for limited resources, and they wanted decision-makers to understand the particular importance of providing marginalized and special needs students with mental health supports.”

Dr. Putnam’s presentation was titled, “Benefits of Providing Behavioral Supports and Emotionally Supportive Environments for Students Returning to School.” It reviewed potential outcomes that schools might achieve when they implement with fidelity Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) practices that support: 

  • Culturally equitable social competence and academic achievement 
  • Culturally knowledgeable staff behavior 
  • Culturally valid decision-making 
  • Culturally relevant evidence-based interventions

Dr. Putnam and Mari Sasaki Solis, one of his doctoral students, also provided a virtual session titled “Trauma-informed Interventions Across the Tiers” at the California PBIS conference last fall. During the pandemic, many students – particularly those who are marginalized as well as those with special needs – have suffered trauma due to the loss of loved ones, economic distress, and virtual learning. This session focused on using evidence-based trauma interventions to support all students.

About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that is a national leader in the field of applied behavior analysis, serving individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. Founded more than 65 years ago, we provide a wide range of exceptional educational and rehabilitative services across the lifespan. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit


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