All students have the right to go to a school that is safe, welcoming and comfortable. The biggest characteristic that needs to be demonstrated at Florida UFSD is that of dignity – to ourselves and to others. On July 1, 2012 the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) went into effect across our state. DASA is designed to make sure that all students feel safe within school and at all school functions. On July 1, 2013, the amended Dignity for All Students was implemented with additional requirements, including reporting and investigation of cyberbullying that occurs off campus.
Here are the basics on what DASA means:
Goal of DASA
To create a safe and supportive school climate where students can learn and focus, rather than being discriminated against or harassed with words or actions by other students or school personnel.
Who is protected?
All students in public schools in New York State are protected
What does it prohibit: DASA prohibits harassment and discrimination of students by other students and school personnel. DASA includes cyberbullying (even after school hours) and makes it a school issue if the cyberbullying disrupts a student’s ability to learn. Cyberbullying is defined as the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. In serious cases, school administrators are obligated to contact law enforcement.
Where does it apply?
To any behavior on school property, in school buildings, on school transportation and at any school sponsored activity. According to the New York State Education Department, students may also be disciplined for conduct that occurs outside of the school that may endanger the health or safety of pupils within the educational system or adversely affect the educative process.
So what does this mean to us?
We need to be much more careful about how we talk, text, post and behave around each other. We need to realize that treating others poorly (intentionally or not) has a huge impact on the lives of those targeted, and we have no right to take away any student’s right to be free from discrimination or harassment. Some key thoughts follow:
- Acceptance: we must accept differences among other people.
- Sensitivity: we must understand that our words and actions can offend and hurt others.
- Respect for others: we must always show that all students have the right to learn and feel welcome and safe at school.
What follows is a list that might help us understand that showing dignity means treating people with all sorts of different characteristics with respect. We’ve known this before, but now it is a New York State law that we must never treat students poorly because of any of the following:
- National origin
- Ethnic group
- Religious practices
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
DASA puts into law a simple idea that has been taught for years: The Golden Rule. TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED!
Don’t treat another student poorly because of how they look, act, who their friends are, or because of the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or where they are from. Never use physical actions or words in any way to disrespect others and take away their freedom to learn and feel safe in our schools. Remember: It’s not only the right thing to do: IT’S THE LAW!
What to do?
If you or someone you know is being discriminated against or harassed, take action. You can help – Talk to SOMEONE. At school, you can talk to any of our staff members, they all know what to do.
There is also an Investigative Form for you to fill out if you feel someone is being targeted. This form is available in the main offices at Golden Hill and Seward and in the Guidance office at Seward. The Investigative Form can also be downloaded here. Return the form to the main office/guidance office or by mail and the incident will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken to address the situation. This can be anonymous, but the more we know, the more we can help.
Questions or Concerns
If you have any questions or concerns related to the Dignity Act, contact the District-level or Building-level Coordinators:
- District Coordinator: Dana Castine, 845-651-3095, ext. 30015
- School Buildings Coordinator: Jeanne-Marie Pavlik, 845-651-3095, ext. 40020
Thank you for keeping our schools safe for EVERYONE!