The Rockville Centre Board of Education announced plans to implement the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) in an effort to combat bullying throughout the school district.
The announcement took place at South Side High School on Sept. 27 during a public meeting.
The act, which took effect in July, addresses issues that are related to harassment and discrimination of students by employees or other students.
"You may be asking yourself, why do we need to legislate dignity and respect? It seems kind of a no-brainer that students should respect each other and employees should respect students," Assistant Superintendent Noreen Leahy said. "But, as you are well aware from newspapers of recent events … there is an awful lot of reporting about [how] bullying has become much more intense, much more insidious and seemingly, everywhere."
In order to comply with the act, the RVC School District was required to revise the code of conduct in simple terms for all grade levels to comprehend. Each school has also been working on educating students on the issue of bullying in order to help alleviate the issue.
"Our instruction is infused throughout our curriculum from K-12," said Leahy, who said they're emphasizing on teaching bystanders of these acts on how to respond in difficult social situations, posting notices telling students to say something, if they see something.
"Bullying is an act with three characters, not two," she said. "We want to see what can bystanders can do. More and more we are finding that empowering a bystander may just be the key to stopping bullying."
Implementation of the act also required employee training and for each school to assign a Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC), someone who is preferably trained in human resources, whose job is to train faculty and help identify incidents.
Incidents of harassment and discrimination, after being reviewed by each school DAC, are now required to be reported to the State Education Department.
Cyber-bullying was not included in this year's code of conduct as the legislation passed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not go into effect until July 2013.
The board encouraged parents to be involved and help educate their children on the effects of bullying.
"DASA is simply asking us to step up our games some," Leahy said. "To be more aware, make others more aware and make kids more aware … and be able to do something about it before somebody gets hurt so every child in RVC can reap the benefits of going to school here, be ready to go to college and continue the bright futures that we hope for them all."