This bill has been amended

Bill S1987B-2009

Enacts the "dignity for all students act" to prevent harassment and discrimination

Enacts the "Dignity For All Students Act"; authorizes the commissioner of education to establish policies and procedures affording all students in public schools an environment free of harassment and discrimination; requires reporting harassment and discrimination to such commission; makes exemptions.

Details

Actions

  • Jun 22, 2010: SUBSTITUTED BY A3661C
  • Jun 22, 2010: ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1070
  • Jun 22, 2010: COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • May 18, 2010: REPORTED AND COMMITTED TO FINANCE
  • Apr 30, 2010: NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
  • Mar 11, 2010: PRINT NUMBER 1987B
  • Mar 11, 2010: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • Jan 6, 2010: REFERRED TO EDUCATION
  • Mar 16, 2009: PRINT NUMBER 1987A
  • Mar 16, 2009: AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • Feb 10, 2009: REFERRED TO EDUCATION

Meetings

Calendars

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Education - May 18, 2010
Ayes (9): Breslin, Serrano, Johnson C, Squadron, Stavisky, Huntley, Addabbo, Foley, Little
Ayes W/R (4): Oppenheimer, Espada, LaValle, Marcellino
Nays (3): Flanagan, Saland, Seward
Absent (2): Montgomery, Padavan
Excused (1): Morahan
VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Rules - Jun 22, 2010
Ayes (14): Smith, Espada, Stachowski, Montgomery, Duane, Hassell-Thompson, Krueger, Parker, Serrano, Stewart-Cousins, Dilan, Klein, Valesky, Farley
Ayes W/R (5): Skelos, Johnson O, Padavan, LaValle, Seward
Nays (4): Volker, Hannon, Larkin, Saland

Memo

 BILL NUMBER:  S1987B

TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the dignity for all students act

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : The purpose of this bill is to afford all students an environment free of any harassment that substantially interferes with their education, regardless of the basis of the harassment, and free of discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section one of the bill establishes its short title, the Dignity for all Students Act.

Section 2 of the bill amends the Education Law by adding a new article 2 entitled "Dignity for all Students." New article 2 sets forth the legislative intent in section 10, and sets forth definitions in section 11. The definition of "harassment" in section 11 (7) was carefully drafted to ensure that this legislation protects children against harassment in a manner that is consistent with the First Amendment protections of speech and expression. See Tinker v. Des Moines School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969) and its progeny. In addition, by moving the list of protected classes to the end of the definition, and by adding the phrase "not limited to" at the beginning of the list, the amendment made in the. B-print explicitly establishes, in the bill text itself, that the list is non-exclusive and that the definition is content neutral.

Harassment is defined as "creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student's educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being;...". Education Law §11(7), as proposed in this bill. The definition includes an objective reasonableness standard and, consistent with Tinker and the cases decided after Tinker, it also provides that speech (e.g., the verbal threats included in the definition) becomes harassment only when it does, or foreseeably would, substantially interfere with a student's education. It is also the legislative intent that, consistent with the hostile environment case law developed in the employment context, conduct or verbal behavior must be severe or pervasive in order to substantially interfere with educational performance, opportunities, etc. and to therefore be harassment under this definition, This content-neutral definition is followed by a non-exclusive list of protected classes whose members are often the targets of the type of harassment the bill seeks to prevent. The purpose of listing these protected classes is to provide examples of the types of status-based harassment frequently encountered by students without in any way limiting the application of the definition to individuals in those classes.

Section 12 prohibits harassment, as defined in section 11(7) and discussed above, and it also prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual Dr perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, Dr sex in any activity occurring on school grounds Dr at a school function. New section 12 includes language intended to make clear that the Dignity for All Students Act does not contravene Dr override existing provisions of law, including but not limited to the Education Commissioner's regulations, regarding single gender schools and athletic teams. Sections 13 and " of new article 2 respectively provide for the policies and guidelines to be established by school districts, and the State Education Commissioner's responsibilities. This part of the bill requires school districts to develop procedures which create a school environment free of discrimination and harassment and to establish guidelines for training school personnel. School districts must also establish guidelines for development of nondiscriminatory instructional and counseling methods and require that at least one member of each school's staff be trained to handle human relations in the areas in which discrimination and harassment are prohibited. The Commissioner of Education .is to provide advice, which may include model policies; and direct services, to the extent Possible, to help districts prevent discrimination and harassment. The commissioner will also provide grants, from funds appropriated for such purpose, to local school districts to assist them in implementing the guidelines provided for by the bill.

Section 15 of new Education Law article 2 requires the commissioner to create a procedure whereby material incidents of discrimination and harassment on school grounds or at school functions are reported to the State Education Department at least annually. The commissioner may Use the existing UVIR (uniform violent incident reporting) system for this purpose; however, it is the legislative intent that the UVIR system will be adapted to include information about the Specific nature of the incident, i.e., the type Dr types of bias involved in a reported incident of harassment or discrimination, including the possibility that multiple types of bias could be involved in a single incident, and all of the types of bias involved should be reported.

Section 16 of new Education Law article 2 provides protection for people who report incidents of discrimination or harassment. Section 17 provides for applicability of the new article with respect to certain institutions and other laws, and section 18 provides for severability and construction.

Section 3 of the bill amends Section 801-a of the education law by requiring sensitivity to the harassment or discrimination prohibited by section 2 of this bill to be incorporated into the civility and character training currently required by section 801-a of the education law.

Section 4 of the bill amends section 2801 of the education law by adding a new paragraph n. Section 5 of the bill provides that the bill will take effect July 1, 2012.

The B-print revises the harassment definition by moving the non-exclusive list of protected classes from the middle of the definition to the end of the definition, and by adding the phrase "not limited to" at the beginning of the list. This change clarifies the consistently expressed legislative intent that the list is non-exclusive and that the definition is content neutral. The B-print also makes a conforming change in proposed new Education Law § 10, by removing the list of protected classes and simply stating the broad legislative intent to provide a school environment free of discrimination and harassment. There are no other changes in the B-print.

JUSTIFICATION : In deciding First Amendment cases in school settings, courts have recognized "the special need to maintain a safe, secure and effective learning environment," Harper v. Poway Unified School, 445 F .3d 1166 at 1176 (9th Cir. 2006), citing Tinker v. Des Moines School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). Students need such a safe, welcoming and supportive school environment so that they can concentrate on their academic and personal growth, and they should never have to be preoccupied by the threat or actual occurrence of harassment or discrimination at school. The Dignity for All Students Act promotes civility among students and between students and teachers. It will also help create an atmosphere where learning is paramount and distractions to learning are minimized.

Moreover, the Act provides a response to the large numbers of harassed and stigmatized students skipping school and engaging in high risk behaviors like drug use, alcohol abuse, and perhaps even suicide. No child or teen should ever be pushed to such extremes because of an intolerable environment in his or her school. Scholarly literature and common sense establish that harassment and intimidation interfere with students' ability to learn. By prohibiting harassment in public schools and establishing the basis for proactive measures such as training and model policies, the "Dignity for All Students Act" takes a major step in creating more nurturing environments in all our schools.

A 2008 review of existing literature, that also analyzed 1993-94 data from a large urban school district, noted that bullying victimization is estimated to affect 15-20% of the U.S. student population. The authors defined bullying to include threats, intimidation and other conduct, and concluded it was the most common form of "low level" school violence. Meyer-Adams, N. & Conner, B.T., "School violence: Bullying behavior and the Psychosocial School Environment in Middle Schools," Children & Schools, Vol. 30, No.4 (October 2008). The negative effects of bullying include increased truancy and dropout rates as well as negative psychosocial effects such as depression, etc. Id. at p. 212. Verbal teasing and intimidation are the most common form of bullying. Dupper, D.R. & Meyer-Adams, N., "Low-level violence: A neglected aspect of school culture," Urban Education, Vol. 37, No.3 at p. 351 (2002). A 1992 study found that 88% of secondary school students reported having observed bullying and 76.8% stated they had been victims. Id. In addition to the negative effects discussed above, bullying victims' grades may suffer and even "good kids" may be pushed into starting fights. Id. at 352. There is also harm to those who witness peer harassment. IQ.

The continuing need for this legislation is apparent from recent data demonstrating the prevalence of bias-based harassment in New York schools. A survey commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that more than one-third (39%) of New York students reported that bullying, name calling, and harassment is a serious problem in school. Students were asked about the frequency of witnessing other students bullied, called names, or harassed in school. From Teasing to Torment: A Report on School Climate in New York (GLSEN 2005), at p. 8. The most commonly reported harassment was based on physical appearance. Sixty-six percent (66%) of students reported that people at school were harassed at least sometimes because of their looks or body size, with 38% reporting that this happened often or very often. IQ. This bill therefore now includes weight as one of the examples contained in the non-exclusive list at the end of the harassment definition. Bullying and harassment based on how people expressed their gender, or because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation was also very common. Fifty seven percent of respondents reported that students were bullied or harassed at least sometimes because of the way they expressed their gender, and about a quarter (23%) said these behaviors occurred often or very often. Id. More than five out of ten (52%) reported that students were harassed because they were or were perceived to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual, id., even as only 5% identified as being so.Id. at 2. About a quarter (24%) said these behaviors Occurred often or very often. Id. at 8.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : A.3496-A/S.1571 (passed Assembly 2007 and 2008); A.9491/S.1454 (passed Assembly 2006); A.4963/S.1454 (passed Assembly 2005); A.1118/S.1925 (2003-04) passed Assembly 2003 and 2004; A.2634-A/S.1628-A (2001-02) passed Assembly 2002; A.9244-A/S.5775-A (2000). FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : Minimal.

EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.

Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1987--B 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 10, 2009 ___________
Introduced by Sens. DUANE, ADAMS, BRESLIN, DILAN, FOLEY, HASSELL-THOMP- SON, C. JOHNSON, KRUEGER, LITTLE, MONTGOMERY, OPPENHEIMER, PERKINS, SAVINO, SCHNEIDERMAN, SERRANO, SQUADRON, THOMPSON, VALESKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- recommitted to the Committee on Education in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the dignity for all students act THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "dignity for all students act". S 2. The education law is amended by adding a new article 2 to read as follows: ARTICLE 2 DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS SECTION 10. LEGISLATIVE INTENT. 11. DEFINITIONS. 12. DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT PROHIBITED. 13. POLICIES AND GUIDELINES. 14. COMMISSIONER'S RESPONSIBILITIES. 15. REPORTING BY COMMISSIONER. 16. PROTECTION OF PEOPLE WHO REPORT DISCRIMINATION OR HARASS- MENT. 17. APPLICATION. 18. SEVERABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION. S 10. LEGISLATIVE INTENT. THE LEGISLATURE FINDS THAT STUDENTS' ABILITY TO LEARN AND TO MEET HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS, AND A SCHOOL'S ABILITY TO
EDUCATE ITS STUDENTS, ARE COMPROMISED BY INCIDENTS OF DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT INCLUDING BULLYING, TAUNTING OR INTIMIDATION. IT IS HEREBY DECLARED TO BE THE POLICY OF THE STATE TO AFFORD ALL STUDENTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AN ENVIRONMENT FREE OF DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT. THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO FOSTER CIVILITY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND TO PREVENT AND PROHIBIT CONDUCT WHICH IS INCONSISTENT WITH A SCHOOL'S EDUCATIONAL MISSION. S 11. DEFINITIONS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE, THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS: 1. "SCHOOL PROPERTY" SHALL MEAN IN OR WITHIN ANY BUILDING, STRUCTURE, ATHLETIC PLAYING FIELD, PLAYGROUND, PARKING LOT, OR LAND CONTAINED WITH- IN THE REAL PROPERTY BOUNDARY LINE OF A PUBLIC ELEMENTARY OR SECONDARY SCHOOL; OR IN OR ON A SCHOOL BUS, AS DEFINED IN SECTION ONE HUNDRED FORTY-TWO OF THE VEHICLE AND TRAFFIC LAW. 2. "SCHOOL FUNCTION" SHALL MEAN A SCHOOL-SPONSORED EXTRA-CURRICULAR EVENT OR ACTIVITY. 3. "DISABILITY" SHALL MEAN DISABILITY AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION TWEN- TY-ONE OF SECTION TWO HUNDRED NINETY-TWO OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW. 4. "EMPLOYEE" SHALL MEAN EMPLOYEE AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION ELEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE OF THIS TITLE. 5. "SEXUAL ORIENTATION" SHALL MEAN ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED HETEROSEXUALI- TY, HOMOSEXUALITY OR BISEXUALITY. 6. "GENDER" SHALL MEAN ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED SEX AND SHALL INCLUDE A PERSON'S GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION. 7. "HARASSMENT" SHALL MEAN THE CREATION OF A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT BY CONDUCT OR BY VERBAL THREATS, INTIMIDATION OR ABUSE THAT HAS OR WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF UNREASONABLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY INTERFERING WITH A STUDENT'S EDUCATIONAL PERFORMANCE, OPPORTUNITIES OR BENEFITS, OR MENTAL, EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING; OR CONDUCT, VERBAL THREATS, INTIM- IDATION OR ABUSE THAT REASONABLY CAUSES OR WOULD REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO CAUSE A STUDENT TO FEAR FOR HIS OR HER PHYSICAL SAFETY; SUCH CONDUCT, VERBAL THREATS, INTIMIDATION OR ABUSE INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO CONDUCT, VERBAL THREATS, INTIMIDATION OR ABUSE BASED ON A PERSON'S ACTU- AL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, WEIGHT, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC GROUP, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER OR SEX. S 12. DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT PROHIBITED. 1. NO STUDENT SHALL BE SUBJECTED TO HARASSMENT BY EMPLOYEES OR STUDENTS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION; NOR SHALL ANY STUDENT BE SUBJECTED TO DISCRIMI- NATION 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 STUDENTS ON SCHOOL PROPERTY OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION. NOTHING IN THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO PROHIBIT A DENIAL OF ADMISSION INTO, OR EXCLUSION FROM, A COURSE OF INSTRUCTION BASED ON A PERSON'S GENDER THAT WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE UNDER SECTION THIRTY-TWO HUNDRED ONE-A OR PARAGRAPH (A) OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR OF THIS CHAP- TER AND TITLE IX OF THE EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1972 (20 U.S.C. SECTION 1681, ET. SEQ.), OR TO PROHIBIT, AS DISCRIMINATION BASED ON DISABILITY, ACTIONS THAT WOULD BE PERMISSIBLE UNDER SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILI- TATION ACT OF 1973. 2. AN AGE-APPROPRIATE VERSION OF THE POLICY OUTLINED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION, WRITTEN IN PLAIN-LANGUAGE, SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THE CODE OF CONDUCT ADOPTED BY BOARDS OF EDUCATION AND THE TRUSTEES OR SOLE TRUSTEE PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS CHAPTER AND
A SUMMARY OF SUCH POLICY SHALL BE INCLUDED IN ANY SUMMARIES REQUIRED BY SUCH SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE. S 13. POLICIES AND GUIDELINES. THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE TRUS- TEES OR SOLE TRUSTEE OF EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL CREATE POLICIES AND GUIDELINES THAT SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO: 1. POLICIES INTENDED TO CREATE A SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT THAT IS FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT; 2. GUIDELINES TO BE USED IN SCHOOL TRAINING PROGRAMS TO DISCOURAGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT AND THAT ARE DESIGNED: A. TO RAISE THE AWARENESS AND SENSITIVITY OF SCHOOL EMPLOYEES TO POTENTIAL DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT, AND B. TO ENABLE EMPLOYEES TO PREVENT AND RESPOND TO DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT; AND 3. GUIDELINES RELATING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF NONDISCRIMINATORY INSTRUCTIONAL AND COUNSELING METHODS, AND REQUIRING THAT AT LEAST ONE STAFF MEMBER AT EVERY SCHOOL 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, AND SEX. S 14. COMMISSIONER'S RESPONSIBILITIES. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL: 1. PROVIDE DIRECTION, WHICH MAY INCLUDE DEVELOPMENT OF MODEL POLICIES AND, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, DIRECT SERVICES, TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS RELATED TO PREVENTING DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT AND TO FOSTERING AN ENVIRONMENT IN EVERY SCHOOL WHERE ALL CHILDREN CAN LEARN FREE OF MANIFESTATIONS OF BIAS; 2. PROVIDE GRANTS, FROM FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR SUCH PURPOSE, TO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO ASSIST THEM IN IMPLEMENTING THE GUIDELINES SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION; AND 3. PROMULGATE REGULATIONS TO ASSIST SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN IMPLEMENTING THIS ARTICLE INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, REGULATIONS TO ASSIST SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN DEVELOPING MEASURED, BALANCED, AND AGE-APPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO VIOLATIONS OF THIS POLICY, WITH REMEDIES AND PROCEDURES FOCUSING ON INTERVENTION AND EDUCATION. S 15. REPORTING BY COMMISSIONER. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL CREATE A PROCEDURE UNDER WHICH MATERIAL INCIDENTS OF DISCRIMINATION AND HARASS- MENT ON SCHOOL GROUNDS OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION ARE REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT AT LEAST ON AN ANNUAL BASIS. SUCH PROCEDURE SHALL PROVIDE THAT SUCH REPORTS SHALL, WHEREVER POSSIBLE, ALSO DELINEATE THE SPECIFIC NATURE OF SUCH INCIDENTS OF DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT, PROVIDED THAT THE COMMISSIONER MAY COMPLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SECTION THROUGH USE OF THE EXISTING UNIFORM VIOLENT INCIDENT REPORTING SYSTEM. IN ADDITION THE DEPARTMENT MAY CONDUCT RESEARCH OR UNDERTAKE STUDIES TO DETERMINE COMPLIANCE THROUGHOUT THE STATE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE. S 16. PROTECTION OF PEOPLE WHO REPORT DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT. ANY PERSON HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT THAT A STUDENT HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT BY AN EMPLOYEE OR STUDENT, ON SCHOOL GROUNDS OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION, WHO, ACTING REASONABLY AND IN GOOD FAITH, EITHER REPORTS SUCH INFORMATION TO SCHOOL OFFICIALS, TO THE COMMISSIONER, OR TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES OR OTHERWISE INITIATES, TESTIFIES, PARTICIPATES OR ASSISTS IN ANY FORMAL OR INFORMAL PROCEEDINGS UNDER THIS ARTICLE, SHALL HAVE IMMUNITY FROM ANY CIVIL LIABILITY THAT MAY ARISE FROM THE MAKING OF SUCH REPORT OR FROM INITIATING, TESTIFYING, PARTICIPATING OR ASSISTING IN SUCH FORMAL OR INFORMAL PROCEEDINGS, AND NO SCHOOL DISTRICT OR EMPLOYEE SHALL TAKE, REQUEST OR CAUSE A RETALIATO- RY ACTION AGAINST ANY SUCH PERSON WHO, ACTING REASONABLY AND IN GOOD
FAITH, EITHER MAKES SUCH A REPORT OR INITIATES, TESTIFIES, PARTICIPATES OR ASSISTS IN SUCH FORMAL OR INFORMAL PROCEEDINGS. S 17. APPLICATION. NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL: 1. APPLY TO PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTI- TUTIONS; OR 2. 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. S 18. SEVERABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE SEVERABLE, AND IF ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION DECLARES ANY PHRASE, CLAUSE, SENTENCE OR PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE TO BE INVALID, OR ITS APPLICABILITY TO ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY, PERSON OR CIRCUMSTANCE IS DECLARED INVALID, THE REMAINDER OF THIS ARTICLE AND ITS RELEVANT APPLI- CABILITY SHALL NOT BE AFFECTED. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE PURPOSES THEREOF. S 3. Section 801-a of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: S 801-a. Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education. The regents shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades kindergarten through twelve includes a component on civility, citizen- ship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect for others, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and contributions to, the community. The regents shall determine how to incorporate such component in existing curricula and the commissioner shall promulgate any regulations needed to carry out such determination of the regents. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, "TOLERANCE," "RESPECT FOR OTHERS" AND "DIGNITY" SHALL INCLUDE AWARENESS AND SENSITIVITY TO DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT AND CIVILITY IN THE RELATIONS OF PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT RACES, WEIGHTS, NATIONAL ORIGINS, ETHNIC GROUPS, RELIGIONS, RELIGIOUS PRACTICES, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL ABILITIES, SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS, GENDERS, AND SEXES. S 4. Paragraphs l and m of subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the educa- tion law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, are amended and a new paragraph n is added to read as follows: l. a minimum suspension period, for students who repeatedly are substantially disruptive of the educational process or substantially interfere with the teacher's authority over the classroom, provided that the suspending authority may reduce such period on a case by case basis to be consistent with any other state and federal law. For purposes of this section, the definition of "repeatedly are substantially disrup- tive" shall be determined in accordance with the regulations of the commissioner; [and] m. a minimum suspension period for acts that would qualify the pupil to be defined as a violent pupil pursuant to paragraph a of subdivision two-a of section thirty-two hundred fourteen of this chapter, provided that the suspending authority may reduce such period on a case by case basis to be consistent with any other state and federal law[.]; AND N. PROVISIONS TO COMPLY WITH ARTICLE TWO OF THIS CHAPTER. S 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012, except that any rules or regulations necessary for the timely implementation of this act on its effective date shall be promulgated on or before such date.

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