THE DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS ACT

The intent of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which took effect July 1, is to provide students with an environment free from discrimination and harassment, as well as to foster civility in public schools.

Some of the law’s requirements include establishing anti-harassment and discrimination policies, creating school training programs, and including coursework in civility, citizenship, and character education.

The Manhasset Public Schools already meet the DASA standards in many respects. From in-school sessions led by counselors to mentoring and friendship groups, students at all grade levels are exposed to the ideas of acceptance, compassion, and respect.

Dignity for All Students Act: Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Dignity Act?

The Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) was signed into law by former Governor David A. Paterson in September 2010, to protect all students in New York State’s public schools from harassment and discrimination by other students or school employees.

When did the Dignity Act become effective?

The Dignity Act became effective on July 1, 2012.

Who is protected under this legislation?

Identified in the legislation are those who are subjected to intimidation or abuse based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. The Act explicitly states that bullying and intimidation are forms of harassment.

How does The Dignity Act define "harassment?"

Harassment is defined as "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."

Why is The Dignity Act necessary?

The Dignity Act provides a response to the large number of harassed and stigmatized students skipping school and engaging in high risk behaviors by prohibiting discrimination in public schools and establishing the basis for protective measures such as training and model policies. The Dignity Act takes a major step in creating more nurturing environments in all our schools.

What does The Dignity Act require schools to do to meet this new mandate?

· Develop policies intended to create a school environment that is free from discrimination or harassment.
· Develop guidelines for school training programs to discourage discrimination or harassment that are designed to:
 
  • Raise awareness and sensitivity of school employees to potential discrimination or harassment;
  • Enable employees to prevent and respond to discrimination or harassment; and,
  • Develop guidelines relating to the development of non-discriminatory instructional and counseling methods.

· Require that at least one staff member be trained to handle human relations issues.

Does Manhasset meet these new requirements?

Yes. At least one employee in every school building has been designated as a Dignity Act Coordinator and has been trained in methods to respond to human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. Additionally, the Board of Education adopted a revised student Code of Conduct Policy that includes specific language incorporating the Dignity for All Students Act.

Dignity Act Coordinators:

Mrs. Paulette Williams – Shelter Rock Elementary School – 267-7457
Mrs. Kathy Murray – Munsey Park Elementary School – 267-7406
Mr. Peter Vercessi – Manhasset Middle School – 267-7501

In addition, six other faculty members have received training: Dr. Jean Kendall, Principal, Munsey Park School; Mr. Robert Geczik, Principal, Shelter Rock School; Dr. Dean Schlanger, Principal, Manhasset Secondary School, Ms. Jane Grappone, Director of Guidance; Ms. Amanda Gimondo, Elementary Guidance Counselor, and Ms. Lori Pietrafesa, Elementary and Middle School Social Worker.

Training was held for all faculty and staff prior to the start of school in September 2012, which will help enhance efforts distictwide.

How has Manhasset been working to prevent bullying?

Manhasset has been working to prevent bullying by: bringing in guest speakers to discuss the topic during grade-level assemblies and parent presentations; sending students to participate in relevant conferences and training programs; conducting staff development sessions to train faculty in recognizing and dealing with bullying; and, forming clubs and programs to plan activities that create a culture of compassion and encourage civil and respectful character traits.

How does The Dignity Act relate to SAVE?

The New York State Education Department with the New York State Center for School Safety (NYSCSS) is developing guidance to correlate components of SAVE as they relate to The Dignity Act.

Where can I find more information about the Dignity Act?
Visit the New York State Education Department website or contact your child's principal for more information.
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