A new regulation named the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) went into effect July 1, 2012 in New York State. Its purpose is to ensure that elementary and secondary public school students have the right to attend school in an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
The intent of the New York State Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) is to ensure that elementary and secondary school students have the right to attend school in an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying. It prohibits actions — such as aggression, threats, and intimidation — that interfere with another student’s educational performance both at school and district events. It also creates a framework for sensitivity and diversity training to promote a positive school environment. The Act not only defines harassing and bullying behavior but also offers regulations for intervention and prevention.
As part of the Act, Director of Student Service, Kim Lybolt, has been appointed the district’s Dignity Act Coordinator. Over the summer, Ms. Lybolt attended state training to handle harassing behaviors that may be related but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived: race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex. She, in turn, will provide similar training to district staff.
DASA requires that at least one person at every school be thoroughly trained to handle harassing behaviors that may be related but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived: race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practices, disability, sexual orientation, gender and sex. Designated school professionals will be trained to act as Dignity Act Coordinators for the buildings they are assigned to. The roles and responsibilities include: prevention, intervention, training, reporting and investigating by the Coordinator as determined by New York State Education Department’s Regulation and Dignity for All Students Act.
Key Definitions from DASA
Bullying: A hostile activity which harms or induces fear through the threat of further aggression and/or creates terror. Bullying may be premeditated or a sudden activity. Bullying often includes the following characteristics:
Power imbalance: Occurs when a bully uses his/ her physical or social power over a target. Intent to harm – the bully seeks to inflict physical or emotional harm and/or takes pleasure in this activity.
Threat of further aggression: The bully and target believe that bullying will continue.
Terror: When any bullying increases, it becomes a systematic violence or harassment used to intimidate and maintain dominance. There are several types of bullying, including verbal, physical and social/relational.
Discrimination: The act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of the group, class or category to which that person belongs (as enumerated in the harassment section).
Harassment: 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. The harassing behavior may be based on any characteristic, including but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived: race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender (including gender identity and expression).
Hazing: An induction, initiation or membership process involving harassment which produces public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule or creates a situation where public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule is likely to occur.