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Incredibly, it is being reported that some schools in New York City are not reporting the bullying, harassment, and discrimination that occurs there during the day. The physical and verbal harassing behavior can be based on race, gender, gender identity, religion, or religion.
The Dignity for All Students Act, or DASA, went into effect in 2010 to deter this behavior and to make sure public school students in New York state experience a safe and supportive environment at school, at school functions and on school buses. DASA has required schools to set up systems to stop the bullying and provide help to the victims.
It also requires schools to instruct students in citizenship, character and civility to raise awareness about the different kinds of discrimination and to codify these into official rules of conduct. This applies to actual physical conduct, verbal abuse, and also all electronic communications.
In addition, it requires a Dignity Act Coordinator in each school to address reports of bullying and correctly record these incidences and all school employees, including non-educational staff, to be trained on what constitutes bullying, so they can be correctly reported and acted upon. A new reporting structure will be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.
Bullying can cause missed school days, as students do not want to go to school because of the hostile environment the bullying creates; it also causes depression and obviously lower levels of achievement in school. The schools can be held responsible for the physical, emotional, and psychological damages if they do not take decisive action. Yet many schools are still either misreporting these instances under DASA or not reporting them at all, to the detriment of the victims.
“Bullying and harassing behavior in schools is damaging to the lives of schoolchildren and entirely unacceptable,” said Neal Goldstein, partner at Goldstein and Bashner. “Even more shocking is the conduct of school employees and officials who do not recognize or do not report the bulling; these are the people to whom we entrust the care of our children each day.” Mr. Goldstein is an advocate for kids who have been bullied and often speaks to their parents about their rights.
On October 13, 2017 the Office of the State Comptroller released the Implementation of the Dignity For All Students Act, which examined 20 New York State school districts’ compliance with DASA; a similar audit for NYC schools was commissioned in September. The audit reported 16,938 verified incidences of harassment during the 2015-2016 school year, and 2,472 verified incidences of cyberbullying. However, the report found that these cases were profoundly underreported.
If your child has been bullied at school in New York City, please contact Goldstein and Bashner to discuss your next steps. Without action, these incidences can cause severe emotional repercussions. We are community advocates who have teamed up with the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying to protect our schoolchildren, and have advised families on how to collect evidence for a future case if the bullying behavior does not cease.
In 2015, we helped a student recover damages from the Farmingdale School District who did not put an end to his bullying. We can help you too. Please contact us at 516-210-4369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goldstein and Bashner