08/29/2012

Teaching Tolerance Provides Training to Create Safer N.Y. Schools

The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project held a two-day training session this week to help New York educators comply with a new state law requiring public schools to take specific steps to protect students from harassment and discrimination.

Educators from 23 school districts in New York state attended the training session designed to help them meet the requirements of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA). Questar III Board of Cooperative Education Services, the state agency that provides cooperative educational services to the school districts, organized the event.

“The Dignity for All Students Act takes a comprehensive approach to ensure every child feels welcome, safe and valued at school,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “These issues are at the heart of Teaching Tolerance, and I am delighted to be a part of this effort.”

The DASA, which took effect on July 1, establishes safeguards and procedures that public schools must take to protect all students from harassment and discrimination. Schools across the state are adopting codes of conduct and implementing new training programs to comply with the law when school starts in September.

The law requires each school to designate at least one DASA coordinator to respond to issues of harassment and discrimination. Two representatives from each school district attended the event so that they can train the designated coordinators in their area.

"Questar III BOCES is pleased to partner with the Southern Poverty Law Center to provide school districts in Rensselaer, Columbia and Greene counties with this required training,” said Questar III Deputy Superintendent Gladys Cruz. “We have great respect for their work and leadership."

Other provisions of the DASA include mandatory reporting of incidents of bullying and harassment to the New York State Education Department. It also requires ongoing training for teachers and staffers to respond to harassment and discrimination.

As one of the nation’s leading providers of anti-bias education resources, Teaching Tolerance reaches hundreds of thousands of educators and millions of students annually through its Teaching Tolerance magazine, multimedia teaching kits, online curricula, professional development resources and classroom-friendly social justice documentaries. These materials are provided to educators at no cost.