The Board of Education is committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality. The Board recognizes that discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying, are detrimental to student learning and achievement. These behaviors interfere with the mission of the district to educate its students and disrupt the operation of the schools. Such behavior affects not only the students who are its targets but also those individuals who participate and witness such acts.
To this end, the Board condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events. Discrimination, harassment, hazing or bullying that takes place at locations outside of school grounds, such as cyberbullying, which creates or can be reasonably expected to create a material and substantial interference with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school or impinge on the rights of other students are prohibited, and may be subject to disciplinary consequences.
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 is defined as harassment (see below) through any form of electronic communication.
Discrimination is 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 Definitions section, under Harassment, below).
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 would 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 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).
For the purpose of this definition the term threats, intimidation or abuse shall include verbal and non-verbal actions.
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.
Incident Reporting and Investigation
Although it can be difficult to step forward, the district can't effectively address bullying if incidents are not reported. Students who have been bullied, parents whose children have been bullied or other students who observe bullying behavior are encouraged and expected to make a verbal and/or written complaint to any school personnel in accordance with the training and guidelines provided. Staff who observe or learn of incident(s) of bullying are required, in accordance with State law, to make an oral report to DAC and building principal within one school day and to fill out the district reporting form within two school days.
Dignity Act Coordinator Contact (DAC) Information:
District/Valley Early School – Ms. Tanya Loomis, email@example.com (607) 359-2636
Tuscarora Elementary School – Ms. Alisha Jack, firstname.lastname@example.org (607) 359-2261
Middle/High School – Ms. Jana Reidy, email@example.com (607) 359-2241