Dignity for All Students Policy
DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS ACT
The Board of Education recognizes that learning environments that are safe and supportive can increase student attendance and improve academic achievement. A student's ability to learn and achieve high academic standards, and a school's ability to educate students, is compromised by incidents of discrimination or harassment, including but not limited to bullying, taunting and intimidation. Therefore, in accordance with the Dignity for All Students Act, Education Law, Article 2, the District will strive to create an environment free of bullying, discrimination and/or harassment and will foster civility in the schools to prevent and prohibit conduct which is inconsistent with the District's educational mission. Since cyberbullying is a form of bullying, the term “bullying” as used in this policy will implicitly include cyberbullying even if it is not explicitly stated.
For the purposes of this Policy, bullying is defined as a hostile activity which harms or induces humiliation, exclusionary acts, or fear through the threat of further aggression (and/or creates terrorizing). Bullying may be premeditated or a sudden activity. It may be subtle or easy to identify, done by one person or a group. Bullying includes but is not necessarily limited to:
- Power imbalance - occurs when an individual uses his/her physical or social power over another individual.
- Intent to harm - an individual seeks to inflict physical or emotional harm and/or takes pleasure in this activity.
- Threat of further aggression – the individual who bullies or the individual who is bullied believes the bullying will continue.
- Terrorizing - when any bullying increases, it becomes a “systematic violence or harassment used to intimidate and maintain dominance.” (Coloroso, The Bully, The Bullied & The Bystander, 2008)
While the focus of this Policy is on prevention, bullying acts may still occur. Breaking the cycle of violence involves more than merely identifying and stopping bullying. We will examine why and how a child becomes a bully or a target of a bully (and sometimes both) as well as the role bystanders play in perpetuating the cycle. We will take appropriate steps to help students create alternative, healthier roles that are free from violence.
The District condemns and prohibits all forms of discrimination and harassment of students based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex by school employees or students on school property and at school-sponsored activities and events that take place at locations off school property. In addition, any act of discrimination or harassment, outside of school sponsored events, which can reasonably be expected to materially and substantially disrupt the education process may be subject to discipline.
Dignity Act Coordinator
At least one (1) employee at every school shall be designated as the Dignity Act Coordinator(s). The Dignity Act Coordinator(s) will be thoroughly trained to handle human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (identity or expression) and sex. The Board of Education shall appoint the Dignity Act Coordinator(s) and share the name(s) and contact information with all school personnel, students, and parents/persons in parental relation, which shall include, but is not limited to, providing the name, designated school and contact information by:
a) Listing such information in the Code of Conduct and updates posted on the Internet website, if available;
b) Including such information in the plain language summary of the Code of Conduct provided to all persons in parental relation to students before the beginning of each school year;
c) Providing such information to parents and persons of parental relation in at least one district or school mailing or other method of distribution including, but not limited to, sending such information home with each student and, if such information changes, in at least one subsequent district or school mailing or other such method of distribution as soon as practicable thereafter;
d) Posting such information in highly visible areas of school buildings;
e) Making such information available at the district and school-level administrative offices.
If a Dignity Act Coordinator vacates his/her position, another school employee shall immediately be designated for an interim appointment as Coordinator, pending approval from the Board of Education, within thirty (30) days of the date the position was vacated. In the event a Coordinator is unable to perform the duties of the position for an extended period of time, another school employee shall immediately be designated for an interim appointment as Coordinator, pending return of the previous Coordinator to the position.
Training and Awareness
Each District and Charter School shall establish guidelines for training which shall be approved by the Board of Education. Training will be provided each school year for all District employees in conjunction with existing professional development training to raise staff awareness and sensitivity of bullying, discrimination and/or harassment directed at students that are committed by students or school employees on school property or at a school function. Training will include ways to promote a supportive school environment that is free from bullying, discrimination and/or harassment, emphasize positive relationships, and demonstrate prevention and intervention techniques to assist employees in recognizing and responding to bullying, discrimination and/or harassment, as well as ensuring the safety of the victims.
Instruction in grades Kindergarten through 12 shall include a component on civility, citizenship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect for others, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and contributions to, the community. For the purposes of this policy, "tolerance," "respect for others" and "dignity" shall include awareness and sensitivity to bully, discrimination and/or harassment and civility in the relations of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders and sexes.
Rules against discrimination and harassment will be included in the Code of Conduct, publicized District-wide and disseminated to all staff and parents. An age-appropriate summary shall be distributed to all students at a school assembly at the beginning of each school year.
Reports and Investigations of Bullying, Discrimination and/or Harassment
The District will investigate all complaints of bullying, discrimination and/or harassment, either formal or informal, and take prompt corrective measures, as necessary. Complaints will be investigated in accordance with applicable policies and regulations. If, after an appropriate investigation, the District finds that this policy has been violated, corrective action will be taken in accordance with District policies and regulations, the Code of Conduct, and all appropriate federal or state laws.
The District will annually report material incidents of bullying, discrimination and/or harassment which occurred during the school year to the State Education Such report shall be submitted in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, on or before the basic educational data system (BEDS) reporting deadline or such other date as determined by the Commissioner.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior (Commonly Known as "Whistle-Blower" Protection)
Any person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subjected to bullying, discrimination and/or harassment by an employee or student, on school grounds or at a school function, who acts reasonably and in good faith and reports such information to school officials or law enforcement authorities, shall have immunity from any civil liability that may arise from making such report. The Board prohibits any retaliatory behavior directed at complainants, victims, witnesses and/or any other individuals who participated in the investigation of a complaint of discrimination or harassment.
Education Law Sections 10-18 and 801-a
8 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Section 100.2(jj), 100.2(kk), and 100.2(1)(2)
NOTE: Refer also to Policies
#1330 -- Appointments and Designations by the Board of Education
#3410 -- Code of Conduct on School Property
#3420 -- Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District
#3430 -- Uniform Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting System (VADIR)
#7551 -- Sexual Harassment of Students
#7552 -- Bullying in the Schools
#8130 -- Equal Educational Opportunities
#8242 -- Civility, Citizenship and Character Education/Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education
Adoption Date: July 2, 2012
Revised: September 25, 2012