What is bullying?
Bullying: under the amended Dignity for All Students Act, has the same meaning as harassment (see below). The accompanying regulation provides more guidance regarding the definition and characteristics of bullying to help the school community recognize the behavior.
Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is defined as harassment (see below) through any form of electronic communication.
Discrimination: Discrimination is the act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment or access to facilities available to others, to an individual or group of people because of the group, class, or category to which that person belongs (as enumerated in the Definitions section, under Harassment, below)
Hazing: Hazing is 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.
Harassment: has been defined in various ways in federal and state law and regulation. The Board recognizes that these definitions are important standards, but the Board’s goal is to prevent misbehavior from escalating in order to promote a positive school environment and to limit liability. The Dignity for All Students Act (§§10-18 of Education Law) defines harassment as the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying, that (a) 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; (b) reasonably causes or could reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; (c) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student; or (d) occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property. The harassing behavior may be based on any characteristic, including, but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived:
- National origin
- Ethnic group
- Religious practice
- Sexual orientation, or
- Gender (including gender identity and expression).
In some instances, bullying or harassment may constitute a violation of an individual’s civil rights. The district is mindful of its responsibilities under the law and in accordance with district policy regarding civil rights protections.
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 Dignity Act was signed into law on September 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. The Dignity Act 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 will be responsible for collecting and reporting data regarding material incidents of discrimination and harassment.