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Holding Hands



In honor of Lauryn Santiago and legislation in Maryland named in her honor, this organization was founded by  Lauryn's mother, Linda Diaz in 2016.


Thank you to Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melynk Part II was created. This bill passed legislation unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Hogan on April 18, 2017.

(HB0920) Requiring the State Board of Education to require, beginning on or before July 1, 2018, all certificated school personnel who have direct contact with students on a regular basis to complete training, by December 1 of each year, in specified knowledge and skills required to understand and respond to youth suicide risk and identify specified resources to help students in crisis; prohibiting a person from bringing a specified action against a county board except under specified circumstances;

Thank you to Maryland Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk as well as her staff, Legislation was created in January 2015 with a unanimously. On May 12, 2015 Governor Larry Hogan signed the below: 

  • (HB0947) Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board - School Counselors - Certification Renewal Requirement (Lauryn's Law)

  • Requiring the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board to require, beginning on or before July 1, 2016, specified certificate holders applying for renewal of a certificate as a school counselor to have obtained, by a method determined by the Board, specified knowledge and skills required to understand and respond to the social, emotional, and personal development of students; etc.

MSDE certification requirement:

(1) Upon the renewal or reinstatement of a certificate, an educator certified as a school counselor shall provide 6 acceptable credits, which shall include one of the following:

(a) One semester hour of coursework from an Institution of Higher Education;

(b) One Department-approved continuing professional development (CPD) credit; or

 (c) An equivalent number of continuing education units.

(2) The coursework, CPD, or continuing education unit required by §F(1) of this regulation shall address:

(a) The need for intervention or referral in response to indicators of mental illness and behavioral distress, including, but not limited to:

(i) Depression;

(ii) Trauma;

(iii) Violence;

(iv) Youth Suicide; and

(v) Substance Abuse.

(b) The identification of professional resources and best practices for distributing resources to parents or guardians to help students in crisis.

15 contact hours are required to fulfill this requirement. 

In terms of the renewal period:

Everyone has a full five year renewal cycle before they have to begin presenting this requirement, with one exception.  If a school counselor renews their certificate (after January 1, 2017), then chooses to accelerate the next renewal to advance to the APC, they must present the new requirements at that time.

For the Training:

If an individual's professional development on these topics equals 15 contact hours (equivalent to the required one semester hour) they can consider submitting them for MSDE CPD approval. The MSDE Program Approval Off ice is willing to expedite approval of CPDs that will meet this requirement. There are forms to complete. CPDs meet the “One Department-approved continuing professional development credit” option in the requirement.


Linda Diaz, Founder, CEO & President

Kelley Flanders, Vice President

Leyla Lockhart, Board Member

Sherell Rowe, Board Member

Wendashia Ray, Board Member

Dorris Powell, Board member

Loryel Diaz, Board Member

​Luz Schantz, Board Member

​Calvin Charles Sr, Board member

Julie Larkins, Board Member

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