senate Bill S1987B

Enacts the "dignity for all students act" to prevent harassment and discrimination

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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  • 10 / Feb / 2009
    • REFERRED TO EDUCATION
  • 16 / Mar / 2009
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • 16 / Mar / 2009
    • PRINT NUMBER 1987A
  • 06 / Jan / 2010
    • REFERRED TO EDUCATION
  • 11 / Mar / 2010
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • 11 / Mar / 2010
    • PRINT NUMBER 1987B
  • 30 / Apr / 2010
    • NOTICE OF COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION - REQUESTED
  • 18 / May / 2010
    • REPORTED AND COMMITTED TO FINANCE
  • 22 / Jun / 2010
    • COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • 22 / Jun / 2010
    • ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1070
  • 22 / Jun / 2010
    • SUBSTITUTED BY A3661C

Summary

Enacts the "Dignity For All Students Act"; authorizes the commissioner of education to establish policies and procedures affording all students in public schools an environment free of harassment and discrimination; requires reporting harassment and discrimination to such commission; makes exemptions.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A3661C
Versions:
S1987
S1987A
S1987B
Legislative Cycle:
2009-2010
Law Section:
Education Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 2 §§10 - 18, amd §§801-a & 2801, Ed L

Votes

9
3
9
Aye
3
Nay
4
aye with reservations
2
absent
1
excused
0
abstained
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Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER: S1987B

TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the education law, in relation to enacting the dignity
for all students act


PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL :
The purpose of this bill is to afford all students an environment free
of any harassment that substantially interferes with their education,
regardless of the basis of the harassment, and free of discrimination
based on actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin,
ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or
sex.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS :
Section one of the bill establishes its short title, the Dignity for
all Students Act.

Section 2 of the bill amends the Education Law by adding a new article
2 entitled "Dignity for all Students." New article 2 sets forth the
legislative intent in section 10, and sets forth definitions in
section 11. The definition of "harassment" in section 11 (7) was
carefully drafted to ensure that this legislation protects children
against harassment in a manner that is consistent with the First
Amendment protections of speech and expression. See Tinker v. Des
Moines School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969) and its progeny. In
addition, by moving the list of protected classes to the end of the
definition, and by adding the phrase "not limited to" at the beginning
of the list, the amendment made in the. B-print explicitly
establishes, in the bill text itself, that the list is non-exclusive
and that the definition is content neutral.

Harassment is defined as "creation of a hostile environment by 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;...". Education Law §11(7), as
proposed in this bill. The definition includes an objective
reasonableness standard and, consistent with Tinker and the cases
decided after Tinker, it also provides that speech (e.g., the verbal
threats included in the definition) becomes harassment only when it
does, or foreseeably would, substantially interfere with a student's
education. It is also the legislative intent that, consistent with the
hostile environment case law developed in the employment context,
conduct or verbal behavior must be severe or pervasive in order to
substantially interfere with educational performance, opportunities,
etc. and to therefore be harassment under this definition, This
content-neutral definition is followed by a non-exclusive list of
protected classes whose members are often the targets of the type of
harassment the bill seeks to prevent. The purpose of listing these
protected classes is to provide examples of the types of status-based
harassment frequently encountered by students without in any way
limiting the application of the definition to individuals in those
classes.

Section 12 prohibits harassment, as defined in section 11(7) and
discussed above, and it also prohibits discrimination on the basis of
actual Dr perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic
group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation,
gender, Dr sex in any activity occurring on school grounds Dr at a
school function. New section 12 includes language intended to make
clear that the Dignity for All Students Act does not contravene Dr
override existing provisions of law, including but not limited to the
Education Commissioner's regulations, regarding single gender schools
and athletic teams. Sections 13 and " of new article 2 respectively
provide for the policies and guidelines to be established by school
districts, and the State Education Commissioner's responsibilities.
This part of the bill requires school districts to develop procedures
which create a school environment free of discrimination and
harassment and to establish guidelines for training school personnel.
School districts must also establish guidelines for development of
nondiscriminatory instructional and counseling methods and require
that at least one member of each school's staff be trained to handle
human relations in the areas in which discrimination and harassment
are prohibited. The Commissioner of Education .is to provide advice,
which may include model policies; and direct services, to the extent
Possible, to help districts prevent discrimination and harassment. The
commissioner will also provide grants, from funds appropriated for
such purpose, to local school districts to assist them in implementing
the guidelines provided for by the bill.

Section 15 of new Education Law article 2 requires the commissioner to
create a procedure whereby material incidents of discrimination and
harassment on school grounds or at school functions are reported to
the State Education Department at least annually. The commissioner may
Use the existing UVIR (uniform violent incident reporting) system for
this purpose; however, it is the legislative intent that the UVIR
system will be adapted to include information about the Specific
nature of the incident, i.e., the type Dr types of bias involved in a
reported incident of harassment or discrimination, including the
possibility that multiple types of bias could be involved in a single
incident, and all of the types of bias involved should be reported.

Section 16 of new Education Law article 2 provides protection for
people who report incidents of discrimination or harassment. Section
17 provides for applicability of the new article with respect to
certain institutions and other laws, and section 18 provides for
severability and construction.

Section 3 of the bill amends Section 801-a of the education law by
requiring sensitivity to the harassment or discrimination prohibited
by section 2 of this bill to be incorporated into the civility and
character training currently required by section 801-a of the
education law.

Section 4 of the bill amends section 2801 of the education law by
adding a new paragraph n. Section 5 of the bill provides that the bill
will take effect July 1, 2012.

The B-print revises the harassment definition by moving the non-exclu-
sive list of protected classes from the middle of the definition to
the end of the definition, and by adding the phrase "not limited to"
at the beginning of the list. This change clarifies the consistently
expressed legislative intent that the list is non-exclusive and that
the definition is content neutral. The B-print also makes a conforming
change in proposed new Education Law § 10, by removing the list of
protected classes and simply stating the broad legislative intent to
provide a school environment free of discrimination and harassment.
There are no other changes in the B-print.

JUSTIFICATION :
In deciding First Amendment cases in school settings, courts have
recognized "the special need to maintain a safe, secure and effective
learning environment," Harper v. Poway Unified School, 445 F .3d 1166
at 1176 (9th Cir. 2006), citing Tinker v. Des Moines School District,
393 U.S. 503 (1969). Students need such a safe, welcoming and
supportive school environment so that they can concentrate on their
academic and personal growth, and they should never have to be
preoccupied by the threat or actual occurrence of harassment or
discrimination at school. The Dignity for All Students Act promotes
civility among students and between students and teachers. It will
also help create an atmosphere where learning is paramount and
distractions to learning are minimized.

Moreover, the Act provides a response to the large numbers of harassed
and stigmatized students skipping school and engaging in high risk
behaviors like drug use, alcohol abuse, and perhaps even suicide. No
child or teen should ever be pushed to such extremes because of an
intolerable environment in his or her school. Scholarly literature and
common sense establish that harassment and intimidation interfere with
students' ability to learn. By prohibiting harassment in public
schools and establishing the basis for proactive measures such as
training and model policies, the "Dignity for All Students Act" takes
a major step in creating more nurturing environments in all our
schools.

A 2008 review of existing literature, that also analyzed 1993-94 data
from a large urban school district, noted that bullying victimization
is estimated to affect 15-20% of the U.S. student population. The
authors defined bullying to include threats, intimidation and other
conduct, and concluded it was the most common form of "low level"
school violence. Meyer-Adams, N. & Conner, B.T., "School violence:
Bullying behavior and the Psychosocial School Environment in Middle
Schools," Children & Schools, Vol. 30, No.4 (October 2008). The
negative effects of bullying include increased truancy and dropout
rates as well as negative psychosocial effects such as depression,
etc. Id. at p. 212. Verbal teasing and intimidation are the most
common form of bullying. Dupper, D.R. & Meyer-Adams, N., "Low-level
violence: A neglected aspect of school culture," Urban Education, Vol.
37, No.3 at p. 351 (2002). A 1992 study found that 88% of secondary
school students reported having observed bullying and 76.8% stated
they had been victims. Id. In addition to the negative effects
discussed above, bullying victims' grades may suffer and even "good
kids" may be pushed into starting fights. Id. at 352. There is also
harm to those who witness peer harassment. IQ.

The continuing need for this legislation is apparent from recent data
demonstrating the prevalence of bias-based harassment in New York
schools. A survey commissioned by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight
Education Network (GLSEN) found that more than one-third (39%) of New
York students reported that bullying, name calling, and harassment is
a serious problem in school. Students were asked about the frequency
of witnessing other students bullied, called names, or harassed in
school. From Teasing to Torment: A Report on School Climate in New
York (GLSEN 2005), at p. 8. The most commonly reported harassment was
based on physical appearance. Sixty-six percent (66%) of students
reported that people at school were harassed at least sometimes
because of their looks or body size, with 38% reporting that this
happened often or very often. IQ. This bill therefore now includes
weight as one of the examples contained in the non-exclusive list at
the end of the harassment definition. Bullying and harassment based on
how people expressed their gender, or because of their actual or
perceived sexual orientation was also very common. Fifty seven percent
of respondents reported that students were bullied or harassed at
least sometimes because of the way they expressed their gender, and
about a quarter (23%) said these behaviors occurred often or very
often. Id. More than five out of ten (52%) reported that students were
harassed because they were or were perceived to be lesbian, gay, or
bisexual, id., even as only 5% identified as being so.Id. at 2. About
a quarter (24%) said these behaviors Occurred often or very often. Id.
at 8.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY :
A.3496-A/S.1571 (passed Assembly 2007 and 2008); A.9491/S.1454 (passed
Assembly 2006); A.4963/S.1454 (passed Assembly 2005); A.1118/S.1925
(2003-04) passed Assembly 2003 and 2004; A.2634-A/S.1628-A (2001-02)
passed Assembly 2002; A.9244-A/S.5775-A (2000).
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
Minimal.

EFFECTIVE DATE :
This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.
view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 1987--B

                       2009-2010 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            February 10, 2009
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sens. DUANE, ADAMS, BRESLIN, DILAN, FOLEY, HASSELL-THOMP-
  SON, C. JOHNSON, KRUEGER, LITTLE,  MONTGOMERY,  OPPENHEIMER,  PERKINS,
  SAVINO,  SCHNEIDERMAN,  SERRANO,  SQUADRON,  THOMPSON, VALESKY -- read
  twice and ordered printed, and when printed to  be  committed  to  the
  Committee  on Education -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered
  reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee --  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 enacting  the  dignity
  for all students act

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.  Short title. This act shall be known and may be  cited  as
the "dignity for all students act".
  S 2. The education law is amended by adding a new article 2 to read as
follows:
                                ARTICLE 2
                        DIGNITY FOR ALL STUDENTS
SECTION 10. LEGISLATIVE INTENT.
        11. DEFINITIONS.
        12. DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT PROHIBITED.
        13. POLICIES AND GUIDELINES.
        14. COMMISSIONER'S RESPONSIBILITIES.
        15. REPORTING BY COMMISSIONER.
        16. PROTECTION  OF  PEOPLE  WHO REPORT DISCRIMINATION OR HARASS-
              MENT.
        17. APPLICATION.
        18. SEVERABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION.
  S 10. LEGISLATIVE INTENT. THE LEGISLATURE FINDS THAT STUDENTS' ABILITY
TO LEARN AND TO MEET HIGH ACADEMIC STANDARDS, AND A SCHOOL'S ABILITY  TO

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01245-12-0

S. 1987--B                          2

EDUCATE  ITS STUDENTS, ARE COMPROMISED BY INCIDENTS OF DISCRIMINATION OR
HARASSMENT INCLUDING BULLYING, TAUNTING OR INTIMIDATION.  IT  IS  HEREBY
DECLARED  TO BE THE POLICY OF THE STATE TO AFFORD ALL STUDENTS IN PUBLIC
SCHOOLS  AN  ENVIRONMENT  FREE  OF  DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT.   THE
PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO FOSTER CIVILITY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS  AND  TO
PREVENT  AND  PROHIBIT  CONDUCT  WHICH  IS  INCONSISTENT WITH A SCHOOL'S
EDUCATIONAL MISSION.
  S 11. DEFINITIONS. FOR THE PURPOSES OF  THIS  ARTICLE,  THE  FOLLOWING
TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS:
  1.  "SCHOOL PROPERTY" SHALL MEAN IN OR WITHIN ANY BUILDING, STRUCTURE,
ATHLETIC PLAYING FIELD, PLAYGROUND, PARKING LOT, OR LAND CONTAINED WITH-
IN 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.
  3.  "DISABILITY" SHALL MEAN DISABILITY AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION TWEN-
TY-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.  "SEXUAL ORIENTATION" SHALL MEAN ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED HETEROSEXUALI-
TY, HOMOSEXUALITY OR BISEXUALITY.
  6. "GENDER" SHALL MEAN ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED SEX  AND  SHALL  INCLUDE  A
PERSON'S GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION.
  7.  "HARASSMENT"  SHALL  MEAN THE CREATION OF A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT BY
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,  INTIM-
IDATION  OR ABUSE THAT REASONABLY CAUSES OR WOULD REASONABLY BE EXPECTED
TO CAUSE A 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, INTIMIDATION OR ABUSE BASED ON A PERSON'S ACTU-
AL  OR  PERCEIVED  RACE,  COLOR,  WEIGHT, NATIONAL ORIGIN, ETHNIC GROUP,
RELIGION, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE, DISABILITY, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER  OR
SEX.
  S  12.  DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT PROHIBITED.  1. NO STUDENT SHALL
BE SUBJECTED TO HARASSMENT BY EMPLOYEES OR STUDENTS ON  SCHOOL  PROPERTY
OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION; NOR SHALL ANY STUDENT BE SUBJECTED TO DISCRIMI-
NATION  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 THIRTY-TWO HUNDRED ONE-A OR PARAGRAPH  (A)  OF
SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR OF THIS CHAP-
TER  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 REHABILI-
TATION 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

S. 1987--B                          3

A SUMMARY OF SUCH POLICY SHALL BE INCLUDED IN ANY SUMMARIES REQUIRED  BY
SUCH SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE.
  S  13.  POLICIES AND GUIDELINES.  THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE TRUS-
TEES 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;
  2. GUIDELINES TO BE USED IN SCHOOL TRAINING PROGRAMS TO DISCOURAGE THE
DEVELOPMENT OF DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT AND THAT ARE DESIGNED:
  A.  TO RAISE THE AWARENESS AND  SENSITIVITY  OF  SCHOOL  EMPLOYEES  TO
POTENTIAL DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT, 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.
  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 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.
  S  15.  REPORTING  BY  COMMISSIONER.  THE  COMMISSIONER SHALL CREATE A
PROCEDURE UNDER WHICH MATERIAL INCIDENTS OF DISCRIMINATION  AND  HARASS-
MENT  ON  SCHOOL  GROUNDS  OR  AT  A SCHOOL FUNCTION 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, 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.
ANY PERSON HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT THAT A  STUDENT  HAS  BEEN
SUBJECTED  TO DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT BY AN EMPLOYEE OR STUDENT, ON
SCHOOL GROUNDS OR AT A SCHOOL FUNCTION, 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 RETALIATO-
RY  ACTION  AGAINST  ANY  SUCH PERSON WHO, ACTING REASONABLY AND IN GOOD

S. 1987--B                          4

FAITH, EITHER MAKES SUCH A REPORT OR INITIATES, TESTIFIES,  PARTICIPATES
OR ASSISTS IN SUCH FORMAL OR INFORMAL PROCEEDINGS.
  S 17.  APPLICATION. NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL:
  1.  APPLY  TO  PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTI-
TUTIONS; OR
  2. 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.
  S  18.   SEVERABILITY AND CONSTRUCTION. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE
SHALL BE SEVERABLE, AND IF ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION  DECLARES
ANY PHRASE, CLAUSE, SENTENCE OR PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE TO BE INVALID,
OR ITS APPLICABILITY TO ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY, PERSON OR CIRCUMSTANCE IS
DECLARED  INVALID, THE REMAINDER OF THIS ARTICLE AND ITS RELEVANT APPLI-
CABILITY SHALL NOT BE AFFECTED. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL  BE
LIBERALLY CONSTRUED TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE PURPOSES THEREOF.
  S  3.   Section 801-a of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of
the laws of 2000, 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, observance of laws and rules, courtesy,  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 PEOPLE  OF
DIFFERENT  RACES,  WEIGHTS,  NATIONAL ORIGINS, ETHNIC GROUPS, RELIGIONS,
RELIGIOUS PRACTICES, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL ABILITIES, SEXUAL  ORIENTATIONS,
GENDERS, AND SEXES.
  S 4. Paragraphs l and m of subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the educa-
tion law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, are amended and a
new paragraph n is added to read as follows:
  l.  a  minimum  suspension  period,  for  students  who repeatedly are
substantially disruptive of the  educational  process  or  substantially
interfere with the teacher's authority over the classroom, provided that
the  suspending authority may reduce such period on a case by case basis
to be consistent with any other state and federal law. For  purposes  of
this  section,  the  definition of "repeatedly are substantially disrup-
tive" shall be determined in accordance  with  the  regulations  of  the
commissioner; [and]
  m.  a  minimum suspension period for acts that would qualify the pupil
to be defined as a violent pupil pursuant to paragraph a of  subdivision
two-a  of  section thirty-two hundred fourteen of this chapter, provided
that the suspending authority may reduce such period on a case  by  case
basis to be consistent with any other state and federal law[.]; AND
  N. PROVISIONS TO COMPLY WITH ARTICLE TWO OF THIS CHAPTER.
  S 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012, except that any rules or
regulations  necessary  for the timely implementation of this act on its
effective date shall be promulgated on or before such date.

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