Dignity for All Students Act DACT

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New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function. 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 becomes effective on July 1, 2012. 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 character education by expanding the concepts of tolerance, respected for others, and dignity. This law originally earned the nickname of “DASA”, but the New York State Education Department has changed the nickname to DACT (Dignity ACT). Inclusive in the DACT guidelines is the topic of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as: using the Internet, cell phones or other electronic devices to send or post text or images intended to intimidate, hurt or embarrass another person. A movie to view that epitomizes this issue is “Easy A”. Much of cyberbullying is initiated out of school via facebook, twitter, instagram or texting. The Dignity for All Students Act arises out of legislative concern, born out of media coverage of egregious cases, to prevent bullying in schools. While the act does not use the word “bullying”, that is its focus. This act is designed to prevent and prohibit discriminating and harassing conduct on school property and at school functions. It also establishes additional “protected classes” of students. Any person having reasonable cause to believe that a student has been subject to discrimination or harassment, must act reasonably and in good faith, and report the incident. Incident reporting forms are available on the district website and on each building’s page. Today’s students are referred to as “Digital Natives”, and as such they are quite adept with technology. A recent survey shared with schools the following data: • 94% have a cell phone • 70% own a laptop • 69% own an ipod or mp3 player • 23% own a tablet • 28% have shared information they would not normally share in public • 12% have shared a cell phone number with a stranger • 13% have posted risqué photos of themselves online • 7% have their primary social media profile set to public These statistics are cause for concern regarding today’s youth. The Dignity Act is an attempt to create a safe and supportive school climate where students can learn and focus, as they navigate the digital culture. The following people have been appointed as Dignity Act Coordinators for the Cazenovia Central School District. • Mary Horan Burton Street Elementary, mhoran@caz.cnyric.org • Jennifer Glasgow Cazenovia Middle School, jglasgow@caz.cnyric.org • Britt Zumpano Cazenovia High School, bzumpano@caz.cnyric.org Link to the Discrimination/Harassment Complaint Form: Article by: Susan Vickers, Associate Principal Cazenovia High School

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