The goal of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), which took effect July 1, 2012, is to provide students with a school environment free of discrimination and harassment by peers and by school personnel. It applies to behaviors on school property, in school buildings, on a school bus, as well as at school-sponsored events or activities. Incidents of harassment and discrimination may include, but are not limited to, threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived:
- National origin;
- Ethnic group;
- Religious practice;
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender (including gender identity or expression); and
These eleven categories are referred to as protected classes.
The new law includes provisions that will alter reporting, codes of conduct, professional development, and classroom instruction. At least one highly-trained employee will be designated as a DASA coordinator in each school and will be responsible for receiving and reporting incidents. Through the presence of classroom activities and extracurricular clubs, The Hudson Falls Central School District already meets and in many cases exceeds the standards present in the Dignity for All Students Act.
Dignity for All Students Act Coordinators
- High School: Jim Bennefield, 518-681-4211
- Middle SchooL: Jordan Tezanos, 518-681-4310
- Intermediate School: Mike McTague, 518-681-4410
- Primary Building: April Struwing, 518-681-4478
- Kindergarten Center: Melissa Whitman, 518-681-4522
The District seeks to create an environment free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination; to foster civility in its schools; and to prevent conduct that is inconsistent with its educational mission. The District, therefore, prohibits all forms of harassment and bullying of students by employees or other students on school property and at school functions. The District further prohibits discrimination against students, including, but not limited to, discriminatory acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation,
gender, or sex by school employees or other students on school property and at school functions that take place at locations off school property. In addition, other acts of harassment, bullying, or discrimination that can reasonably be expected to materially and substantially disrupt the education process may be subject to discipline or other corrective action.
Dignity Act Coordinator
In each of its schools, the District will designate at least one employee holding licenses or certifications as required by the Commissioner to serve as the Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC). Each DAC will be thoroughly trained to handle human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), and sex. Training will also be provided for DACs which addresses: the social patterns of harassment, bullying, and discrimination, including, but not limited that to, those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and sex; the identification and mitigation of harassment, bullying, and discrimination; and strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias, and aggression in educational settings. All DAC appointments will be approved by the Board.
The District will widely disseminate the name, designated school, and contact information of each DAC to all school personnel, students, and parents or persons in parental relation by:
- Listing it in the Code of Conduct, with updates posted on the District’s website; and
- Including it in the Code of Conduct’s plain language summary provided to all parents or persons in parental relation to students before the beginning of each school year; and
- Providing it to parents or persons in parental relation in at least one District or school mailing or another method of distribution, including, but not limited to, electronic communication and/or sending information home with each student. If the information changes, parents and persons in parental relation will be notified in at least one subsequent District or school mailing, or another method of distribution as soon as practicable thereafter; and
- Posting it in highly visible areas of school buildings; and
- Making it available at the District and school-level administrative offices.
If a DAC vacates his or her position, the District will immediately designate an interim DAC, pending approval from the Board within 30 days. In the event a DAC is unable to perform his or her duties for an extended period of time, the District will immediately designate an interim DAC, pending the return of the previous individual to the position.
Training and Awareness
Each year, all employees will be provided with training to promote a supportive school environment that is free from harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, and to discourage and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination. This training may be provided in conjunction with existing professional development, will be conducted consistent with guidelines approved by the Board, and will:
- Raise awareness and sensitivity to potential acts of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination;
- Address social patterns of harassment, bullying, and discrimination and the effects on students;
- Inform employees on the identification and mitigation of harassment, bullying, and discrimination;
- Enable employees to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination;
- Make school employees aware of the effects of harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, and/or discrimination on students;
- Provide strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias, and aggression;
- Include safe and supportive school climate concepts in curriculum and classroom management; and
- Ensure the effective implementation of school policy on conduct and discipline.
Rules against harassment, bullying, and discrimination will be included in the Code of Conduct, publicized District-wide, and disseminated to all staff and parents or persons in parental relation. Any amendments to the Code of Conduct will be disseminated as soon as practicable following their adoption. The District will provide new employees with a complete copy of the current Code of Conduct upon beginning their employment, and distribute an age-appropriate summary to all students at a school assembly at the beginning of each school year.
Reports and Investigations of Harassment, Bullying, and/or Discrimination
The District encourages and expects students who have been subjected to harassment, bullying, or discrimination; parents or persons in parental relation whose children have been subjected to this behavior; other students who observe or are told of this behavior; and all District staff who become aware of this behavior to timely report it to the principal, Superintendent, DAC, or designee.
The principal, Superintendent, DAC, or designee will lead or supervise a timely and thorough investigation of all reports of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The DAC or other individual conducting the investigation, may seek the assistance of the District’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer in investigating, responding to, and remedying complaints.
In the event any investigation verifies that harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination occurred, the District will take prompt action reasonably calculated to end it, to eliminate any hostile environment, to create a more positive school culture and climate, to prevent recurrence of the behavior, and to ensure the safety of the student or students against whom the harassment, bullying, or discrimination was directed.
The Superintendent, principal, DAC, or designee will notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency when there is a reasonable belief that an incident of harassment, bullying, or discrimination constitutes criminal conduct.
The District will timely collect information related to incidents involving harassment, bullying, and discrimination; provide required internal reports; and complete and submit any required report to the State Education Department in the manner and within the time frame specified by the Commissioner.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior (Whistle-Blower Protection)
Any person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subjected to harassment, bullying, or discrimination by an employee or student on school grounds or at a school function, and who acts reasonably and in good faith in reporting it to school officials, the Commissioner of Education, or law enforcement authorities, or who otherwise initiates, testifies, participates, or assists in any formal or informal proceedings, will have immunity from any civil liability that may arise from making that
report, or from initiating, testifying, participating, or assisting in those proceedings. The District also prohibits any retaliatory behavior directed against any complainant, victim, witness, or any other individual who participated in the reporting or investigation of an incident of alleged harassment, bullying, or discrimination.
Publication of District Policy
At least once during each school year, all school employees, students, and parents or persons in parental relation will be provided with a written or electronic copy of this policy, or a plain-language summary of it. The policy or summary will include information relating to how students, parents or
persons in parental relation, and school employees may report harassment, bullying, or discrimination. Additionally, the District will strive to maintain a current version of this policy on its website at all times.
Nothing in this policy or its implementing regulations should be interpreted to preclude or limit any right or cause of action provided under any local, state, or federal ordinance, law or regulation including, but not limited to, any remedies or rights available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Education Law §§ 10-18, 801-a, 2801 and 3214, 8 NYCRR § 100.2
NOTE: Refer also to Policies #1330 — Appointments and Designations by the Board
- #3410 — Code of Conduct
- #3420 — Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the District
- #5670 — Records Management
- #6411 — Use of Email in the District
- #7551 — Sexual Harassment of Students
- #7552 — Student Gender Identity
- #7553 — Hazing of Students
- #8242 — Civility, Citizenship and Character Education/Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education