Following a bullying incident this month that left a Roy H. Mann Junior High student with permanent damage to his vision, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio will convene parents, teachers and experts to ensure the New York State Dignity for All Student’s Act (DASA) is put into meaningful action. Public schools are required to comply with the new anti-bullying law on July 1st, but there is growing concern that faculty training and new lessons will not be ready in time for the coming school year.
De Blasio’s July 24th roundtable will be held in partnership with the State Senator Tom Duane, United Federation of Teachers, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Advocates for Children, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Resources for Children with Special Needs and Lambda Independent Democrats. The event will focus on the challenges posed by bullying for our children, barriers to implementing DASA and best practices from other school systems on training and teaching students about the importance of tolerance and respect in classrooms. Following the discussion, de Blasio will present the Department of Education with a white paper including recommendations on DASA’s implementation.
“We’re at that moment when we need to match words with actual changes in our classrooms and hallways—and there isn’t much time left to get this right. There is a big difference between having a goal and having a teacher ready to intervene when he or she spots bullying,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
“One of my proudest moments in the State Senate was being the prime sponsor of DASA and passing it in 2010 after a decade long struggle,” said State Senator Thomas K. Duane, “No child should be terrified to go to school due to bullying. Unlike other anti-bullying legislation DASA focuses on the education and prevention of harassment and discrimination before it begins rather than punishment after the fact. Therefore, in order for DASA to be effective we must never stop working to improve its implementation. We must never stop exercising due diligence if we are to prevent bullying and harassment in our classrooms.”
“Today, we have a heightened awareness of bullying among young people,” said Ernest A. Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “But we still have a very long way to go in educating parents, children, teachers, administrators and other staff about how to help eradicate cruel behavior in our schools. We hope that the New York State Dignity for All Student's Act will help us reach that goal.”
“Resources for Children with Special Needs highly values the establishment of a safe learning environment for all children with special needs in New York City public schools. It is critical for schools to implement strategies that ensure all students in their school communities can learn without fear of being bullied,” said Rachel Howard, Executive Director of Resources for Children with Special Needs.
“Our city is just now waking up to the scope of the bullying problem in our schools,” said Erin Drinkwater, Executive Director of Brooklyn Community Pride Center. “For all young people, especially LTBTQ youth, school should be a place they can feel safe and respected. New anti-bullying guidelines and training can’t start soon enough. Here at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center we are committed to working with youth, families, and educators to make our schools safe for LGBTQ youth—without any further delay.”
“There is a huge gap between all of the discussions we have been having about bullying and the reality that kids continue to face in schools and online. This is especially true for LGBT kids. We have a great opportunity to make the necessary reforms so that classrooms and hallways across our school system are safe and welcoming for all students,” said Matthew McMorrow of Lambda Independent Democrats. “LID is proud to join Public Advocate Bill de Blasio - along with parents, teachers, students and other concerned groups - in helping to implement the Dignity for All Students reforms so that our schools can be safe for everyone.”
The Dignity for All Student’s Act prohibits harassment in schools. By July 1st, schools must have an implementation plan on DASA’s provisions, including teacher and staff training plans; a harassment monitoring and reporting process; and a state-mandated student curriculum on tolerance and addressing bias. To participate in the Public Advocate’s roundtable, please contact Sadye Vassil at 212-669-7579 or svassil [at] pubadvocate.nyc.gov