Relates to unlawful discriminatory practices by educational institutions.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the executive law, in relation to unlawful discriminatory practices by educational institutions
Purpose of the Bill: The purpose of the bill is to extend the anti-discrimination protections of Article 15 of the Executive Law (Human Rights Law), Exec. L. § 296(4), to cover public and private schools.
Summary of Provisions:
Section 1 of the bill would amend § 292(35) of Article 15 the Executive Law (the Human Rights Law) to define "educational institution" to include "any education corporation or association which holds itself out to the public to be non-sectarian and exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of article four of the real property tax law" as well as "any public school, including any school district, board of cooperative educational services, public college, or public university."
Section 2 of the bill would amend Human Rights Law § 296(4) to remove the reference to an "education corporation or association which holds itself out to the public to be nonsectarian and exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of article four of the real property tax law" and replace it with the term "educational institution" which would be defined in § 292(35).
Section 3 of the bill would provide for an immediate effective date.
Prior Legislative History: A similar bill was introduced during the 2011 legislative session.
Statement in Support: The right to be free from discrimination by educational institutions is set out as one of the purposes of the New York State Human Rights Law, the oldest anti-discrimination law in the country. Moreover, in Section 291 of the Human Rights Law, entitled Equality of Opportunity a Civil Right, the "opportunity to obtain education" without discrimination on all the bases covered by the Law is "recognized and declared to be a civil right." Exec. L. § 291(2).
The bill will amend the Human Rights Law so that its anti-discrimination provisions, which afford protection against discrimination, harassment and bullying for members of protected groups, apply to public educational institutions, and not just to private schools. The Division of Human Rights has asserted jurisdiction over public school districts for over twenty years, but the New York Court of Appeals, in a case involving severe racial bullying of a young girl, recently held that, contrary to decades of application, Section 296(4) does not provide jurisdiction over public schools. North Syracuse Central Sch. Dist. v. N.Y. State Div. of Human Rights, 19 N.Y.3d 481, 950 N.Y.S.2d 67 (2012).
The Court of Appeals indicated that persons aggrieved by discrimination in public education are not without recourse. New York Education Law § 310 provides that a grievance may be filed with the Commissioner of Education. Under this provision, a "decision" of a
public school district may be "appealed". In addition, Education Law 313 provides that a complaint of discrimination by a post-secondary educational institution may be filed with the State Commissioner of Education. Complaints may also be tiled with the federal Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. However, plaintiffs, who are victims of bullying, harassment and other discrimination, cannot receive actual compensation by pursuing any of those options, an essential deterrent against bullying, harassment and other forms of discrimination.
The extension of coverage by amending the definition of "educational institution" to include public as well as private schools, will ensure that the education provisions of the Human Rights Law fulfill the intended purpose of the law. Absent this change, one of the essential purposes of the Human Rights Law which is to eradicate discrimination in education will continue to be frustrated and the newly created disparity in protections between students who attend public schools and students who attend private schools will persist.
Fiscal Implications: None to the State.
Effective Date: This bill would take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4606 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 15, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. FLANAGAN -- (at request of the Division of Human Rights) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Investigations and Government Operations AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to unlawful discriminato- ry practices by educational institutions THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 292 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdivision 35 to read as follows: 35. THE TERM "EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION", WHEN USED IN THIS ARTICLE, SHALL MEAN: (A) ANY EDUCATION CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION WHICH HOLDS ITSELF OUT TO THE PUBLIC TO BE NON-SECTARIAN AND EXEMPT FROM TAXATION PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE FOUR OF THE REAL PROPERTY TAX LAW; OR (B) ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL, INCLUDING ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT, BOARD OF COOPER- ATIVE EDUCATION SERVICES, PUBLIC COLLEGE, OR PUBLIC UNIVERSITY. S 2. Subdivision 4 of section 296 of the executive law, as amended by chapter 106 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows: 4. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an
[education corporation or association which holds itself out to the public to be non-sectarian and exempt from taxation pursuant to the provisions of article four of the real property tax law]EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION to deny the use of its facilities to any person otherwise qualified, or to permit the harassment of any student or applicant, by reason of his race, color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, age or marital status, except that any such insti- tution which establishes or maintains a policy of educating persons of one sex exclusively may admit students of only one sex. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD08991-01-3