The Dignity for All Students Act



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.  The original 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.

Syracuse City School District’s Policy 5300 on HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, BULLYING OR CYBER BULLYING states that:
 
The Board of Education prohibits acts of harassment, intimidation and bullying of students or school employees. A safe and civil school environment is necessary for learning and required for students to achieve academic success. These behaviors, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, are conduct that disrupts both the students’ ability to learn and the schools ability to educate students in a safe environment.

DEFINITIONS:

“Harassment or Intimidation” for the purposes of this policy means any written (including computer messages), verbal or physical act characteristic, that takes place on school property, at a school sponsored event or on a bus that:

A. Is motivated by an actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, weight, color, religious practice, religion, ancestry, national origin, Native American ancestry/ethnicity, sex, gender, identity, sexual orientation, and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory handicap; or
B. By any other distinguishing characteristic; or
C. A reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, that the act(s) will have the effect of harming a student or damaging the student’s property, or placing the student in reasonable fear of harm to his person or damage to property, or
D. Has the effect of insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to cause substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.
 
Bullying shall mean unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a student or staff member by another student or staff member.
Cyber bullying is bullying that includes, but is not limited to, the following misuses of technology; harassing, teasing, intimidating, threatening or terrorizing another student or staff member by way of any technological tool, such as sending, texting or distributing inappropriate or derogatory email messages, instant messages, digital pictures or images, or website postings (including blogs) which has the effect of:

1. Physically, emotionally or mentally harming a student.
2. Damaging, extorting or taking a student’s personal property.
3. Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical, emotional or mental harm.
4. Placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to or loss of personal property; or
5. Creating an intimidating or hostile environment that substantially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities.
 
All forms of Intimidation, Harassment, Bullying or Cyber Bullying are unacceptable and, to the extent that such actions are disruptive of the educational process of the School District, offenders shall be subject to appropriate staff interventions, which may result in administrative discipline.

The policy shall include acts of intimidation, harassment and bullying that occur on or off school grounds, such as cyber-bullying (e.g., the use of electronic or wireless devices to harass, intimidate or bully) when such activity can reasonably be determined to threaten a student or staff’s physical or
emotional safety and well-being, create a hostile school environment, or threaten the safety and wellbeing of other students or staff while on school grounds.
 
Policy Adoption: April 18, 2007
Policy Revision: May 10, 2011
Policy Revision: June 10, 2015
 
Dignity Act Brochure

Dignity Act Coordinators