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, harassment or bullying, including but not limited to cyberbullying, 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 discrimination and harassment and will foster civility in the schools to prevent and prohibit conduct which is inconsistent with the District's educational mission. The District condemns and prohibits all forms of discrimination, harassment or bullying 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, actions taken outside of school sponsored events, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property, 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. 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 will be provided each school year for all District employees in conjunction with existing professional development training to raise staff awareness and sensitivity of discrimination, harassment or bullying 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 positive school environment that is free from discrimination, harassment or bullying, emphasize positive relationships, and demonstrate prevention and intervention techniques to assist employees in recognizing, discouraging and responding to discrimination, harassment or bullying, 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. 5311.9
For the purposes of this policy, "tolerance," "respect for others" and "dignity" shall include awareness and sensitivity to discrimination 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 Discrimination and Harassment
The District will investigate all complaints of harassment and discrimination, 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 discrimination and harassment to the State Education Department as part of the Uniform Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting System (VADIR). 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 discrimination 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.
Ref: Education Law §§10-18 and 801-a 8 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) §§100.2(1)(2)
Adoption date: May 28, 2013
The Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) went into effect on July 1, 2012. Its intent is to create more nurturing school environments free of discrimination and harassment of students by students and by school personnel.
The Dignity Act defines harassment as “the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety…” New York Education Law § 11(7). Under the Dignity Act, harassment includes conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived:
• National origin
• Ethnic group
• Religious practice
• Sexual orientation
The list of characteristics above is not exclusive- harassment may include conduct based on other characteristics as well. Also note that harassment may be based on actual or perceived characteristics, for example, a student’s perceived sexual orientation.
From the NYS Education Department’s Brochure on the Dignity Act:
Q: Who is protected by the Dignity Act?
A: All public elementary and secondary school students are protected by the Dignity Act.
Q: What does the Dignity Act prohibit?
A: The Dignity Act prohibits the harassment and discrimination of students by students and by school personnel.
Q: How does the Dignity Act relate to bullying and hazing? Rev. Sept.2017
A: Bullying and hazing are forms of harassment and discrimination.
Q: What physical spaces are covered by the Dignity Act?
A: The Dignity Act applies to behavior on school property (including athletic fields, playgrounds, and parking lots), in school buildings, on a school bus/vehicle, as well as at school-sponsored events or activities.
Q: How does the Dignity Act relate to the school’s Code of Conduct?
A: The Code of Conduct must be amended to reflect the prohibition of discrimination and harassment of students by students or staff-- in age appropriate plain language.
If you have questions or concerns that are Dignity Act related, please contact the Dignity Act Coordinator for your school:
School Dignity Act Coordinator Extension
Berea Elementary Katherine Gusmano 11647
EC Elementary Alexandra Riker 12006
Montgomery Elem. Melinda Sulzbach 14645
Walden Elementary Diane Smith 15645
Middle School Catherine Heil 16241
High School James Hession 17647
DASA COMPLAINT FORM Print this Form
The DASA Complaint Form is a confidential record. All matters pertaining to this report or investigation should not be discussed with any person other than those individuals officially responsible for this investigation.
Retaliation or threats of retaliation against any person involved in an investigation of harassment, discrimination, or bullying is a violation of the law.
If you believe you are being threatened or retaliated against as a result of your cooperation with this investigation, please contact the Dignity Act Coordinator at your school.
Person Completing this form Date: ____________________
1. Name:_____________________________ Telephone:_______________________
Relationship to Student on whose behalf you are reporting: ____ Parent ____ Friend ____ Relative ____ Teacher ____ Other __________________
2. Name of Student(s) subjected to harassment/discrimination (target):
First Name: ________________________ Last Name:___________________________
School Attending: ______________________Grade: ____________________________
3. Characteristics (actual or perceived) of the Targeted Student (please check all that apply):
____Actual or perceived race
____Other (Describe) ______________
____Religious Practice ________________________________
4. Behavior Observed (Please accurately complete all sections to the best of your knowledge).
Date & Time: _______________________
Alleged Aggressor: __________________________________
Name of Student: __________________________
Please provide a description of the incident including details about the specific behaviors including a statement of how and when you first became aware of the alleged occurence(s) Please provide any written information you have to support the allegations (including: written statements, medical reports, emails, etc.). Please use a separate sheet if necessary. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________
What observable changes have you seen in the student since the time the reported incident(s) occurred? (including: attendance, grades, social engagement, feelings about self and others, antisocial behaviors, self-destructive behaviors, withdrawal, depression, etc.) (Please provide documents and consent for any medical reports relating to this statement.) ______________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
To be completed by district staff only
Is a full DASA investigation warranted? YES NO