Dignity for all Students Act

The Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA, was signed into law on Sept. 13, 2010 and took effect on July 1, 2012. This legislation amended State Education Law by creating a new Article 2 – Dignity for All Students. DASA also 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 to include: an awareness and sensitivity in the relations of people, including but not limited to, different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity, and sexes. The Dignity Act further amended Section 2801 of the Education Law by requiring Boards of Education to include language addressing The Dignity Act in their codes of conduct. Additionally, under the Dignity Act, schools are responsible for collecting and reporting data regarding material incidents of discrimination and harassment.

 

DASA 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.

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.

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 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.

Does Cooperstown Central School meet these requirements?

Yes. One employee in every school building has been designated as a DASA 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.

Where can I find more information about the Dignity Act?

Visit the New York State Education Department website or contact the DASA coordinator at your child’s school for more information.

 

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:

Imbalance of Power: occurs when a bully use his/ her physical or social power over a target.

Intent to Cause Harm: the bully seeks to inflict physical or emotional harm and/or takes pleasure in this activity.

Repetition: bullying behaviors generally happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

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.

Cyberbullying: Bullying that occurs through the use of electronic technology, such as cell phones, computers, and tablets. It can also involve the use of communication tools, such social media sites, text messages, chat and websites. Cyberbullying is different from face-to-face bullying because messages, videos, pictures and/or images, among other things, can be sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.; distributed quickly to a very wide audience, and sent anonymously.

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; such conduct, verbal threats, intimidation, or abuse includes, but is not limited to, verbal threats, intimidation, or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, sex 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.