The Niskayuna Central School District seeks to create an environment free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination, to foster civility in its schools, and to prevent conduct which is inconsistent with its educational mission. The District, therefore, prohibits all forms of harassment and bullying of students by employees or other students on school property and at school functions. The District further prohibits discrimination against students, including, but not limited to, those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sex by school employees or other students on school property and at school sponsored activities and events that take place at locations off school property. In addition, other acts of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination which can reasonably be expected to materially and substantially disrupt the education process may be subject to discipline or other corrective action.
Dignity Act Coordinator
In each of its schools, the District will designate at least one (1) employee holding such licenses and/or certifications as required by the Commissioner to serve as the Dignity Act Coordinator(s). Each Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC) will 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 (including gender identity or expression), and sex. Training will also be provided for DACs which addresses: the social patterns of harassment, bullying, and discrimination, including, but not limited to, those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and sex; the identification and mitigation of harassment, bullying, and discrimination; strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias, and aggression in educational settings. All DAC appointments will be approved by the Board of Education.
The District will share the name, designated school, and contact information of each DAC with all school personnel, students, and parents/persons in parental relation. Such information will be provided by:
a) Listing such information in the Code of Conduct, with updates posted on the District’s website; and
b) Including such information in the plain language summary of the Code of Conduct provided to all persons in parental relation to students before the beginning of each school year; and
c) Providing such information to parents and persons in parental relation in at least one (1) District or school mailing or other method of distribution, including, but not limited to, electronic communication and/or sending such information home with each student. If such information changes, parents and persons in parental relation will be notified of the changes in at least one (1) subsequent District or school mailing, or other such method of distribution as soon as practicable thereafter; and
(d) Posting such information in highly visible areas of school buildings; and
e) Making such information available at the District and school-level administrative offices.
If a DAC vacates his/her position, another school employee will immediately be designated for an interim appointment as DAC, pending approval from the Board of Education, within thirty (30) days of the date the position was vacated. In the event a DAC is unable to perform the duties of the position for an extended period of time, another school employee shall immediately be designated for an interim appointment as DAC, pending return of the previous individual to the position.
Training and Awareness
Each year, employees will be provided with training to promote a supportive school environment that is free from harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, and to discourage and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination. Such training may be provided in conjunction with existing professional development, will be conducted consistent with guidelines approved by the Board of Education, and will:
a) Raise awareness and sensitivity to potential acts of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination;
b) Address social patterns of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination and the effects on students;
c) Inform employees on the identification and mitigation of such acts;
d) Enable employees to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination;
e) Make school employees aware of the effects of harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, and/or discrimination on students;
f) Provide strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias, and aggression;
g) Include safe and supportive school climate concepts in curriculum and classroom management; and
h) Ensure the effective implementation of school policy on conduct and discipline.
Rules against bullying, discrimination, and/or harassment will be included in the Code of Conduct, publicized District-wide, and disseminated to all staff and parents. Any amendments to the Code of Conduct will be disseminated as soon as practicable following their adoption. New teachers will be provided a complete copy of the current Code of Conduct upon their employment, and an age-appropriate summary will be distributed to all students at a school assembly at the beginning of each school year.
Reports and Investigations of Harassment, Bullying, and/or Discrimination
Students who have been subjected to harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, persons in parental relation whose children have been subjected to such behavior, or other students who observe or are told of such behavior, are encouraged and expected to make verbal and/or written reports to the principal, Superintendent, DAC, and/or other school personnel. All District staff who are aware of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, are required to orally report the incident(s) within one (1) school day to the principal, Superintendent, or his/her designee and report it in writing within two (2) school days after making an oral report.
The principal, Superintendent, or the principal’s or Superintendent’s designee will lead and/or supervise a thorough investigation of all reports of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, and ensure that such investigations are completed promptly after receipt of any such reports. All investigations will be conducted in accordance with law, the District’s Code of Conduct, and applicable District policy and procedure. In the event allegations involve harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, the District may utilize the procedures set forth in Policy #3420 — Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District, and its implementing regulations. Where appropriate, the DAC or such other individual conducting the investigation, may seek the assistance of the District’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer in investigating, responding to, and remedying complaints of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination.
In the event any such investigation reveals harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, the District will take prompt action reasonably calculated to end the harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination, eliminate any hostile environment, create a more positive school culture and climate, prevent recurrence of the behavior, and ensure the safety of the student or students against whom such harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination was directed. Such actions will be taken consistent with applicable laws and regulations, District policies and administrative regulations, and collective bargaining agreements, as well as the District’s Code of Conduct and any and all applicable guidelines approved by the Board.
The Superintendent, principal, or his/her designee shall notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency when it is believed that any incident of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination constitutes criminal conduct.
The principal of each primary and secondary school shall provide a regular report (at least once during each school year) on data and trends related to harassment, bullying and/or discrimination to the Superintendent. Such report shall be submitted in a manner prescribed by the District.
The District will annually report material incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination which occurred during the school year to the State Education Department. Such report will be submitted in a manner prescribed by the Commissioner, on or before the basic educational data system (BEDS) reporting deadline or such other date as determined by the Commissioner.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior
Pursuant to Section 16 of the Education Law, any person who has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subjected to harassment, bullying, or discrimination by an employee or student on school grounds or at a school function, who acts reasonably and in good faith and reports such information to school officials, the Commissioner of Education, or law enforcement authorities, or otherwise initiates, testifies, participates, or assists in any formal or informal proceedings, will have immunity from any civil liability that may arise from making such report, or from initiating, testifying, participating, or assisting in such proceedings. Furthermore, the Board prohibits any retaliatory action against any person who, acting reasonably and in good faith, makes a report of harassment, bullying, or discrimination, or who otherwise initiates, testifies, participates, or assists in the investigation of a complaint of harassment, bullying, or discrimination.
Publication of District Policy
At least once during each school year, all school employees, students, and parents will be provided with a written or electronic copy of this policy, or a plain-language summary thereof, including notification of the process by which students, parents, and school employees may report harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination. Additionally, the District will strive to maintain a current version of this policy on its website at all times.
Nothing in this policy or its implementing regulations should be interpreted to 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.
Education Law Sections 10-18, 801-a, 2801 and 3214
8 NYCRR Section 100.2
NOTE: Refer also to Policies #1330 — Appointments and Designations by the Board of Education
#3410 — Code of Conduct on School Property
#3420 — Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District
#7551 — Sexual Harassment of Students
#7553 — Hazing of Students
#8242 — Civility, Citizenship and Character Education/Interpersonal
Violence Prevention Education
Adopted May 24, 2016