Yorktown — The Guidance and Child Study Center at Putnam Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services hosted A Day of Sharing this week, to support guidance counselors in the area’s school districts and guide them through the New York State Education Department’s Dignity for All Students Act, which will be put into effect in July of this year.
Below, Laura Sahr, from New York state Department of Education, speaks to area guidance counselors about the Dignity Act.
The Dignity Act is an amendment to State Education Law that expands the concepts of tolerance, respect for others and dignity to include a sensitivity to different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, gender identity or expression, and sexes. The Dignity Act further amends the Education Law by requiring Boards of Education to include language addressing The Dignity Act in their codes of conduct. As of July, schools will be responsible for collecting and reporting data regarding material incidents of discrimination and harassment.
Dignity Act Task Force workshops have been meeting throughout the year to develop ways to implement the Act, said Laura Sahr, senior director of the Dignity Act, New York State Education Department, who spoke at A Day of Sharing.
“The code of conduct applies to all in education, not just students,” Ms. Sahr told guidance counselors. “It applies to teachers, support staff, lunch aides, bus drivers.” Ms. Sahr said that schools should have an atmosphere of tolerance, respect, dignity and sensitivity incorporated into the climate. “You can’t have a class in courtesy,” she said, “courtesy happens when you’re walking through the hall.”
Other presenters at A Day of Sharing included BOCES Assistant Superintendent Lynn Allen; a presentation by Vivian Lee, director of the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy; guidance counselors from Fox Lane Middle School, Somers Middle and High Schools and Iona Prep High School.