Bill S4921A-2011

Prohibits bullying on school property and at school functions and enacts the "Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences (LEAD)"

Prohibits bullying on school property and at school functions and enacts the "Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences (LEAD)".

Details

Actions

  • Jun 21, 2012: COMMITTED TO RULES
  • Apr 30, 2012: ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • Apr 26, 2012: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • Apr 25, 2012: 1ST REPORT CAL.563
  • Mar 14, 2012: PRINT NUMBER 4921A
  • Mar 14, 2012: AMEND (T) AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • Jan 4, 2012: REFERRED TO EDUCATION
  • Jan 4, 2012: returned to senate
  • Jan 4, 2012: died in assembly
  • Jun 1, 2011: referred to education
  • Jun 1, 2011: DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • Jun 1, 2011: PASSED SENATE
  • May 23, 2011: ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • May 18, 2011: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • May 17, 2011: 1ST REPORT CAL.732
  • Apr 29, 2011: REFERRED TO EDUCATION

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Education - Apr 25, 2012
Ayes (15): Flanagan, Farley, Lanza, LaValle, Marcellino, Maziarz, Ranzenhofer, Robach, Saland, Seward, Oppenheimer, Addabbo, Avella, Breslin, Serrano
Ayes W/R (1): Stavisky
Nays (2): Montgomery, Huntley

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4921A

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting bullying on school property or at school functions

PURPOSE: To define and prohibit the bullying of students and others on school property, both conventional and cyber-bullying.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1: Provides that it is the Legislature's intent to continue to ensure that school pupils, teachers and other personnel are provided with a safe and secure learning environment. In addition, it states that the Legislature finds that prohibiting bullying on school property is an appropriate means to enhance the safety of public schools in New York State.

Section 2: States that the act shall be known as the "Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences" (LEAD).

Section 3: Amends section 801-a of the Education Law, as amended by Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010 effective July 1, 2012, to include addressing methods to discourage acts of bullying as a component of the required instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education. Further defines the use of the words tolerance, respect for others and dignity.

Section 4: Amends section 2801 (2) (d) of the Education Law to add bullying to the list of incidents for which disciplinary measures must be taken pursuant to the district's code of conduct.

Section 5: Amends section 2801(2) of the Education Law to add a new paragraph f-1 to establish procedures in a district's code of conduct which require school employees to report incidents of bullying. Further provides that any employee who reasonably and in good faith reports an act of bullying shall have immunity from civil liability which might otherwise result by reason of such actions.

Section 6: Amends section 11 of the Education Law, as added by Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010, to define "school property" and "school function" to have the same meaning as set forth in section 2801.

Provides further definitions necessary for the implementation of LEAD, including the "creation of a hostile environment" and "bullying."

Section 7: Amends section 12 of the Education Law, as added by Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010, to prohibit bullying and discrimination. This section further provides that a student or school employee found to have bullied a student in a public school or on school property

shall be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the district's code of conduct and applicable discipline procedures.

Section 8: Amends sections 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Education Law, as added by Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010. Section 13 is amended to require school districts to create policies and guidelines to encourage awareness of and to prohibit acts of bullying. Section 14 is amended to require the Commissioner of Education to prescribe regulations which require training in the identification and mitigation of bullying as a component of obtaining a teaching certificate or license valid for service as a classroom teacher, school administrator or supervisor, or superintendent of schools. Section 15 is amended to make existing reporting requirements applicable to bullying. Section 16 is amended to protect school employees who, in good faith, report acts of bullying from civil liability and retaliatory action by the school district.

Section 9 Sets forth the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: In recent years, the New York State Legislature has enacted legislation to increase the safety of students while in school or at school functions. In particular, schools must annually print and distribute codes of conduct which enumerate specifically prohibited behaviors and the consequences for such actions. Additionally, in 2010 legislation was enacted to prohibit harassment and discrimination based on certain enumerated characteristics. However, because bullying continues to plague our students, both in school and through the use of technology, it is vital that the legislature enact measures that protect all students, regardless of the motivation for the acts. Therefore, the Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences (LEAD) is aimed at protecting all of our students from acts of bullying.

Highlighted by the tragic suicides of young teenagers in New York and beyond, bullying is no longer something to be dismissed as mere childhood antics. Unrelenting and egregious acts of bullying occur every day. Unfortunately, bullying is still ignored in certain schools and in some cases actually tolerated. Bullying, however, can be more than temporarily distracting to a student, it can be terrifying and emotionally damaging. It is not uncommon for youngsters who have been the victims of constant bullying to experience academic failure and serious social problems. Noted psychologist and researcher Dan Olweus pinpoints the destructive role of bullying in our schools, "Bullying poisons the educational environment and affects the learning of every child."

Most importantly, because it is the objective to protect all students from acts of bullying, LEAD defines bullying in a broad manner, and focuses on the effect of the action rather than the types of or motive behind the actions. This definition of bullying ensures that

all students are protected from egregious acts of bullying, regardless of the motivation. It is true that many recent acts of bullying highlighted in the news have been the result of bullying based on a student's perceived sexual orientation. While it is important that we as a community work to prevent these heinous acts, it is equally important that we do not limit the scope of students protected by anti-bullying legislation. Parents, teachers, and most importantly students, will confess that they are bullied for reasons as seemingly benign as their hairstyle, favorite color, complexion or manner of dress. Unfortunately, bullying is not a new phenomenon, nor will it soon disappear. From generation to generation, the reasons for bullying continue to evolve. Therefore, this legislation aims to protect all students from bullying, regardless of the motivation. Finally, by requiring that existing instruction in civility, citizenship and character education include a component which addresses methods of discouraging bullying, LEAD encourages all student to be true leaders in their school community.

In today's age of advanced technology, twenty-four hour connectivity and social networking, students who are subjected to acts of bullying have no reprieve. Taunts and acts of bullying that begin in school follow students home every day, and have lasting impacts on the child. In fact, the United States Department of Justice reports that cyber-bullying, bullying through the means of any electronic device, is at an all time high. Forty-three percent of teenagers reporting being victims of cyber-bullying.

Therefore, to further ensure the safety of students and school employees, this legislation identifies and prohibits bullying, both conventional and cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying, defined as bullying through the use of technology or electronic means, can occur beyond the traditional notion of school property. However, regardless of where the acts of cyber-bullying occur the pervasive and immediate nature of modern technology almost certainly assures that acts of cyber-bullying have an impact on the daily lives of our students. Therefore, it is imperative that any legislation aimed at protecting students from bullying includes a prohibition of acts of cyberbullying when such acts create a hostile environment for the student at school or materially and substantially disrupt the educational process or the orderly operation of a school.

Additionally, LEAD enhances the school training requirements established by Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010, by empowering the Commissioner of Education to prescribe regulations requiring training in the identification and mitigation of bullying as a component of obtaining a teaching certificate or license valid for service as a classroom teacher, school administrator or supervisor, or superintendent of schools.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

2009-2010: S.1253C - Referred to Education; Reported to Codes 2007-2008: S.3124 - Referred to Education 2005-2006: S.5703 - Referred to Education 2003-2004: S.4023A - Passed Senate 2002: S.7690 - Passed Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall effect on the same date and in the same manner as Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010, July 1, 2012.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4921--A 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 29, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sens. SALAND, SKELOS, FLANAGAN, MAZIARZ, ALESI, BALL, BONACIC, DeFRANCISCO, FARLEY, FUSCHILLO, GALLIVAN, GOLDEN, GRIFFO, GRISANTI, HANNON, JOHNSON, LANZA, LARKIN, LAVALLE, LIBOUS, LITTLE, MARCELLINO, MARTINS, McDONALD, NOZZOLIO, O'MARA, OPPENHEIMER, RANZEN- HOFER, RITCHIE, ROBACH, SEWARD, YOUNG, ZELDIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education -- 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 prohibiting bullying on school property or at school functions THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. In recent years, New York has taken steps to ensure that school pupils, teachers and other personnel are provided with a safe and secure learning environment. However, egre- gious incidents of bullying, both in person and through the use of tech- nology, continue to plague all of our students. The legislature recog- nizes that bullying manifests in many forms and for innumerable reasons. The legislature finds it is vital to protect all students from acts of bullying, therefore, this legislation expands upon the provisions of chapter 482 of the laws of 2010. While the physical wounds may heal, the effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Therefore, the legislature finds that prohibiting bullying is an appropriate means to enhance the safety of students in New York state's public schools. Furthermore, in today's age of advanced technol- ogy, twenty-four hour connectivity and social networking, students who are subjected to acts of bullying have no reprieve. Taunts and acts of bullying that begin in school follow students home every day, and have lasting impacts on such students. Conversely, bullying through the use of technology can begin away from school property, yet have devastating
effects on the student's ability to learn in a safe environment at school. While bullying through the use of technology may occur away from school property, it can create a hostile environment for the student at school and it can materially and substantially disrupt the educational process. Therefore, to further ensure the safety of students and school employees, it is the intent of the legislature to provide schools with the tools to identify, prevent, and prohibit bullying against all students, both conventional and cyber-bullying. S 2. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Law to Encourage the Acceptance of All Differences (LEAD)". S 3. Section 801-a of the education law, as amended by chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, 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 WITH AN EMPHASIS ON DISCOURAGING ACTS OF BULLYING AS DEFINED IN SECTION TWELVE OF THIS CHAPTER, observance of laws and rules, courte- sy, 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] TOWARD ALL STUDENTS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, genders, and sexes. S 4. Paragraph d of subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: d. disciplinary measures to be taken in incidents involving the possession or use of illegal substances or weapons, the use of physical force, BULLYING, vandalism, violation of another student's civil rights and threats of violence; S 5. Subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the education law is amended by adding a new paragraph f-1 to read as follows: F-1. PROCEDURES BY WHICH ANY SCHOOL EMPLOYEE, HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT THAT A STUDENT HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF BULLYING OR HAS COMMIT- TED AN ACT OF BULLYING AS DEFINED IN SECTION TWELVE OF THIS CHAPTER, SHALL BE REQUIRED TO REPORT SUCH INCIDENT TO THE PRINCIPAL OR DESIGNEE THEREOF. IF THE PRINCIPAL OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE DETERMINES THAT THERE IS A REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE INCIDENT OCCURRED, HE OR SHE SHALL REPORT SUCH INCIDENT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT. ANY EMPLOYEE WHO REASONABLY AND IN GOOD FAITH MAKES A REPORT OF AN ACT OF BULLYING TO THE PRINCIPAL OR DESIGNEE THEREOF SHALL HAVE IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LIABILITY WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE RESULT BY REASON OF SUCH ACTIONS; S 6. Section 11 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: S 11. Definitions. For the purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the following meanings: 1. "School property" AND "SCHOOL FUNCTION" shall [mean in or within any building, structure, athletic playing field, playground, parking lot, or land contained within 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]
HAVE THE SAME MEANINGS AS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS CHAPTER. [3.] 2. "Disability" shall mean disability as defined in subdivision twenty-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.] 3. "Sexual orientation" shall mean actual or perceived heterosexu- ality, homosexuality or bisexuality. [6.] 4. "Gender" shall mean actual or perceived sex and shall include a person's gender identity or expression. [7. "Harassment" shall mean the creation] 5. "CREATION of a hostile environment [by]" SHALL MEAN ENGAGING IN 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, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause [a] ANY 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, intim- idation or abuse based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex] OR DAMAGE HIS OR HER PROPERTY. 6. "BULLYING" SHALL MEAN THE SEVERE OR REPEATED USE BY ONE OR MORE STUDENTS OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OF A WRITTEN, VERBAL OR ELECTRONIC EXPRESSION, OR A PHYSICAL ACT OR GESTURE, OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF, DIRECTED AT A STUDENT THAT EITHER REACHES SCHOOL PROPERTY OR A SCHOOL FUNCTION OR CREATES A REASONABLY FORESEEABLE RISK THAT IT COULD REACH SCHOOL PROPERTY OR A SCHOOL FUNCTION AND SUBSTANTIALLY IMPACT THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT: (I) CAUSING PHYSICAL INJURY, SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY OR EMOTIONAL HARM TO THE STUDENT OR DAMAGE TO THE STUDENT'S PROPERTY; (II) CREATING A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT AT SCHOOL FOR THE STUDENT; OR (III) OR WOULD OTHERWISE MATERIALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY DISRUPT THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS OR THE ORDERLY OPERATION OF A SCHOOL. THE TERM BULLYING SHALL INCLUDE COMMUNICATIONS OR DISSEMINATION OF ANY MATERIAL THROUGH WRITTEN, VERBAL OR ELECTRONIC EXPRESSIONS WHICH CREATE A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT AT SCHOOL OR DISRUPT THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS AS SET FORTH IN SUBPARAGRAPHS (II) AND (III) OF THIS PARAGRAPH, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE COMMUNI- CATION IS INITIATED ON OR OFF SCHOOL PROPERTY. ACTS OF BULLYING SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, THOSE ACTS WHICH ARE MOTIVATED BY A STUDENT'S ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, WEIGHT, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC GROUP, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIEN- TATION, GENDER, OR SEX. S 7. Section 12 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: S 12. [Discrimination and harassment] BULLYING AND DISCRIMINATION prohibited. 1. No student shall be subjected to [harassment] BULLYING by employees or students on school property [or at a school function; nor shall any]. A. NO STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE SHALL SUBJECT ANY STUDENT OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR PUBLICLY FUNDED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM TO BULLYING AS DEFINED IN THIS ARTICLE.
B. ANY STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF SUBDIVI- SION TWO OF THIS SECTION IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR ON SCHOOL PROPERTY SHALL BE SUBJECT TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DISTRICT'S CODE OF CONDUCT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE AND THE APPLICABLE DISCIPLINE PROCEDURES, INCLUDING ANY DISCI- PLINE PROCEDURES OUTLINED IN A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE FOURTEEN OF THE CIVIL SERVICE LAW. ANY STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION IN A PUBLICLY FUNDED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM SHALL BE SUBJECT TO DISCI- PLINE UNDER THE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF SUCH PROGRAM GOVERNING CONDUCT. C. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL APPLY, OR BE CONSTRUED TO APPLY, TO PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. NOR SHALL THIS SECTION PRECLUDE OR LIMIT, OR BE PERCEIVED TO PRECLUDE OR LIMIT, ANY RIGHT OR CAUSE OF ACTION PROVIDED UNDER ANY LOCAL, STATE OR FEDERAL ORDINANCE, LAW, RULE OR REGULATION. 2. NO student SHALL be subjected to discrimination 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 thir- ty-two hundred one-a or paragraph (a) of subdivision two of section twenty-eight hundred fifty-four of this chapter 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 Rehabilitation 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 8. Sections 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the education law, as added by chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, are amended to read as follows: S 13. Policies and guidelines. The board of education and the trustees 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] BULLYING; AND 2. Guidelines to be used in school training programs to discourage the development of discrimination or [harassment] BULLYING and that are designed: a. to raise the awareness and sensitivity of school employees to potential discrimination or [harassment] BULLYING, 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] BULLYING. 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] BULLYING 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. 4. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL PRESCRIBE REGULATIONS REQUIRING THAT ALL PERSONS APPLYING ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER SECOND, TWO THOUSAND THIRTEEN FOR A TEACHING CERTIFICATE OR LICENSE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO A CERTIFICATE OR LICENSE VALID FOR SERVICE AS A CLASSROOM TEACHER, SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR OR SUPERVISOR OR SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SHALL, IN ADDITION TO ALL OTHER CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING REQUIREMENTS, HAVE COMPLETED TRAINING IN THE IDENTIFICATION AND MITIGATION OF BULLYING IN AREAS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO RACE, COLOR, WEIGHT, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC GROUP, RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIEN- TATION, GENDER AND SEX. S 15. Reporting by commissioner. The commissioner shall create a procedure under which material incidents of discrimination and [harass- ment] BULLYING on school [grounds or at a school function] PROPERTY, AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS CHAP- TER, 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] BULLYING, 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] BULLYING. Any person having reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subjected to discrimination or [harassment] BULLYING by an employee or student, on school [grounds or at a school function,] PROP- ERTY, AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS CHAPTER, 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 retaliatory 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 9. This act shall take effect July 1, 2013; provided that if chapter 482 of the laws of 2010 shall not have taken effect prior to such date then this act shall take effect on the same date and in the same manner as such chapter 482 of the laws of 2010, takes effect.

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