Bullying and Harassment: Dignity for All Students Act


 
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Wayland-Cohocton Central School District is committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality for all students, staff and parents. Our policies condemn and prohibit all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying on school grounds, on school buses, at school bus pick-up sites, and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events.
The district needs not only staff but also parents and other students to speak up when they see bullying taking place. As our children grow, mature, and learn to understand the impact of their words and actions on others, they need to receive a consistent message that certain words and certain behaviors are not acceptable.
Our schools cannot effectively address bullying if incidents are not reported. Anyone (including students) who feels that he or she has been bullied or harassed, who wants to report an incident of someone else being bullied, or who has questions on this topic should contact the relevant school Anti-Bullying Coordinator, as shown below.

The Dignity for All Students Act
The goal of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which took effect July 1, 2012, is to provide students with a safe, supportive educational environment that is free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.
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 public schools from harassment, discrimination and bullying 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, taunting and intimidation are all 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;..."
What is “bullying”?
Bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate activity intended to harm in which the bully uses power through actions or intimidation to cause pain and/or misery. It can be verbal, physical, electronic and/or relational. It can include as its focus, but is not limited to, a person’s actual or perceived:
• Physical attributes,
• Mental ability/disability,
• Race,
• Ethnicity,
• Weight,
• Religious practice,
• Gender,
• Sexual orientation,
• Socio-economic status, and
• Other differences (perceived or real).

It includes all forms of hazing and cyberbullying that may have an effect on our school environment. It can be and often is continuous and repeated over time.
What does the act say about cyberbullying?
The Dignity for All Students Act contains a cyberbullying amendment, which establishes protocols to respond to cyberbullying. It grants schools authority over communications that occurs off-campus if it creates a hostile environment, a risk of a substantial disruption at school and it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property.
Under the bill, a principal, superintendent or the designee is charged with investigating reports of cyberbullying. If the investigation verifies harassment, bullying or discrimination, the school would be required to take prompt actions to end the harassment

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 and;
• Enable employees to prevent and respond to discrimination or harassment.
• Develop guidelines relating to the development of non-discriminatory instructional and counseling methods and require that at least one staff member be trained to handle human relations issues.

The following are Dignity Act Coordinators for WCCSD:
Wayland-Cohocton High School: Jamie Clark, Assistant Principal, (585)728-2366, jclark@wccsk12.org
Wayland Elementary School: Bridget Beardsley, Counselor, (585)728-3547, bbeardsley@wccsk12.org
Cohocton Elementary School: Julie Snaith, Social Worker, (585)384-5234, jsnaith@wccsk12.org
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Code of Conduct for students:  Each school has a Code of Conduct for students. Click here to access the web page containing files for each of the district's schools.
NY State Education Department website
NYS Dignity for All Students Act brochure (PDF)
New York State Center for School Safety DASA Fact Sheet (PDF)
New York State Dignity for All Students Act PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)