The New York State Dignity For All Students Act (Dignity Act) was signed into law on September 13, 2010. This legislation amended State Education Law by creating a new Article 2 –Dignity for All Students. • The Dignity Act states that NO student shall be subjected to harassment or discrimination by employees or students on school property or at a school function based on their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex.
The Dignity Act amended Section 801-a of New York State Education Law regarding instruction in civility, citizenship and character education by expanding the concepts of tolerance, respect for others, and dignity.
The Dignity Act also amended Section 2801 of the Education Law, instructing Boards of Education to include language in the codes of conduct to comply with the Dignity Act.
School Property – means in or within any building, structure, athletic playing field, playground, parking lot, or land contained within the real property boundary line of a public elementary or secondary school; or in or on a school bus.
School Bus – means every motor vehicle owned by a public or governmental agency or private school and operated for the transportation of pupils, children of pupils, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity, to or from school or school activities, or, privately owned and operated for compensation for the transportation of pupils, children of pupils, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity to or from school or school activities.
School Function – means a school-sponsored extra-curricular event or activity.
Disability – means (a) a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques or (b) a record of such an impairment or (c) a condition regarded by others as such an impairment, provided, however, that in all provisions of this article dealing with employment, the term must be limited to disabilities which, upon the provision of reasonable accommodations, do not prevent the complainant from performing in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the job or occupation sought or held.
Emotional harm – that takes place in the context of “harassment or bullying” means harm to a student’s emotional well-being through creation of a hostile school environment that is so severe or pervasive as to unreasonably and substantially interfere with a student’s education.
Employee – means any person receiving compensation from a school district or employee of a contracted service provider or worker placed within the school under a public assistance employment program, pursuant to title 9-B of article 5 of the Social Services Law, and consistent with the provisions of such title for the provision of services to such district, its students or employees, directly or through contract, whereby such services performed by such person involve direct student contact
Gender – means a person’s actual or perceived sex and includes a person’s gender identity or expression
Sexual Orientation – means actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality
Harassment/bullying – means the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying, that: a) 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 b) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; or c) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student; or d) occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property. For purposes of this definition, the term “threats, intimidation or abuse” shall include verbal and non-verbal actions.
Cyberbullying means harassment/bullying, as defined above, through any form of electronic communication.
The goal of the Dignity Act is to create a safe and supportive school climate where students can learn and focus, rather than fear being discriminated against and/or verbally and/or physically harassed. All public elementary and secondary school students have the right to attend school in a safe, welcoming, considerate, and caring environment.
Dignity Act Coordinator/Civil Rights Coordinator: Ms. Teresa Gerchman, Principal
Reporting Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying: Students can report any acts of discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying to any staff member, faculty member, or employee. An anonymous report form can be found here.