BEDFORD,N.Y. – The Bedford Central School District, like districts throughout New York State, is adjusting its codes of conduct to reflect the Dignity For All Students Act, the state anti-bullying initiative that went into effect on July 1.
Edward Escobar, director of pupil personnel services for the district, formally introduced the policy at a Wednesday meeting of the Board of Education, which is required to do a lot of work to implement the act.
Escobar’s office has already written a version of the bullying policy in plain language to be included in the district’s code of conduct, as required, but the Board of Education has been tasked with creating guidelines relating to training staff in bullying prevention and counseling methods.
Escobar said the district will use a staff form that everyone must fill out to report any incident to administration. These forms will also be analyzed monthly to monitor the intensity and frequency of incidents, and the data sent off to the state at the end of the year.
“Its central idea is that we are mandated reporters and if we do see something we need to go and make sure we follow the proper channels to report it,” Escobar said.
The act, which was written into law in September 2010, states that no student shall be subjected to harassment by employees or students on school property or at a school-sponsored function, nor shall any student be subjected to discrimination based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, religion, sexual orientation or disability.
“The wonderful thing about this is that 99.9 percent of what we do in this district” is already in the code of conduct, but refers to harassment, Escobar said. This act changes the game, said Escobar, who is a member of State Commissioner of Education's Advisory Panel for Special Education, in that it requires the district to construct a very specific definition of bullying to put in the code that will denote discrimination.
Escobar said his office created literature on the policy that will soon be distributed to all parents and posted on the district website.