Frequently asked questions
What is DASA?
DASA is a state law called the Dignity for All Students Act. The intent of DASA is to “afford all students in public schools an environment free of discrimination and harassment. The purpose of this … is to foster civility in public schools and to prevent and prohibit conduct which is inconsistent with a school’s educational mission.” (Ed Law Article 2 Section 10)
The law states that “No student shall be subjected to harassment or bullying by employees or students on school property or at a school function; nor shall any student be subjected to discrimination 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.”
(Ed Law Article 2 Section 12)
What are Harassment, Bullying and Cyberbullying?
"’Harassment’ and ‘Bullying’ shall mean the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbullying 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
- Reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; or
- Reasonably caused or would reasonably be expected to cause physical injury or emotional harm to a student; or
- Occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property.
Acts of harassment and bullying shall include, but not be limited to, those acts based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex. For the purposes of this definition the term ‘threats, intimidation or abuse’ shall include verbal and non-verbal actions.”
Bullying typically involves an imbalance of power, repetition and the intent to cause harm. (Glossary)
Imbalance of Power: an imbalance of power involves the use of physical strength, popularity, or access to embarrassing information to hurt or control another person.
Repetition: occurring more than once or having the potential to occur more than once.
Intent to Harm: The person bullying has the goal to cause harm. Bullying is not accidental.
Cyberbullying shall mean harassment or bullying as defined [above] where such harassment or bullying occurs through any form of electronic communication.
(Ed Law Article 2 Section 11)
What is Discrimination?
Discrimination means discrimination against any student by a student or students and/or an employee or employees on school property or at a school function including, but not limited to, discrimination based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.
(CR 100.2 (jj) (1) vii)
What determines whether an incident of Discrimination, Harassment, Bullying, or Cyberbullying is reportable as a Material Incident on the SSEC Summary Data Collection Form?
Any written or oral complaint made to a school employee about discrimination, harassment, bullying or cyberbullying is significant and should be reported to the DAC Coordinator for investigation. Any directly observed incident of discrimination, harassment, bullying or cyberbullying by an employee (regardless of whether a complaint is made) must also be reported to the DAC Coordinator within one school day for investigation. The DAC Coordinator must be notified in writing within two school days. Following an investigation, the DAC will determine whether the complaint is verified (is true and meets the definition) as a material incident.
A material incident under DASA is:
• An act or series of acts by a student and/or employee on school property, or at a school function
• Creates a hostile environment by conduct
o with or without physical contact, and/or
o verbal threats, intimidation or abuse
• Conduct of such a severe or pervasive nature that it has the following effect:
o unreasonably and substantially interferes with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits; or
o mental, emotional and/or physical well-being; or
o reasonably causes, or would reasonably be expected to cause, a student to fear for his or her physical safety
When an incident is verified as a material incident of Harassment, Bullying, Cyberbullying, or Discrimination it is reportable to SED on the SSEC Summary Data Collection Form.
The following examples are REPORTABLE as a Material Incident on the SSEC Summary Data Collection Form:
Student A filed a DASA complaint saying that he was offended by the homophobic slur, “that’s gay”. He hears this expression regularly but has filed the complaint against Student B and Student C who are in his classes and use this language especially frequently. Student A states that he is gay and finds this expression particularly offensive. He feels very uncomfortable around Students B and C. The complaint also mentions that while most teachers will tell the students to stop using this expression, teacher D in particular does not. When Student A is in teacher D’s class Students B and C occasionally use the expression “that’s gay” in class discussions without receiving any reprimand from teacher D. Recently teacher D used the expression, “that’s gay”, in a class discussion and that is what prompted Student A to file the complaint, which includes teacher D.
Reportable because the student was offended enough to file a complaint and an investigation determined that the comments were pervasive enough to meet the definition of a material incident of harassment based on sexual orientation.
When a group of kids were getting off the school bus Student A heard someone say, “you smell and you are ugly”. At home Student A began taking showers three times a day and cut her hair. When student A’s mother asked why she cut her hair and was taking extra showers she told her mom about being called smelly and ugly on the bus. Student A did not know which student had spoken to her.
Reportable because the bullying occurred on the school bus and was negatively affecting Student A, even when the offender is unknown
One evening, while at home, Student A posted a picture on Snapchat of Student B with comments saying that she is a liar and a thief. Friends of student A posted similar comments. The next day, at school, student A and her friends were whispering and laughing whenever Student B was near them. A friend of Student B showed Student B the Snapchat Screen Shot that the students were commenting about. During lunch other students were calling student B a liar and a thief and laughing at her.
Reportable because the cyberbullying is impacting the student at school
Student A has a disability that impairs his speech and motor function. During gym class, Student B mimicked Student A’s speech and awkward movements. The next day Student A refused to go to gym class.
Reportable because of the negative impact on the student’s education
The following examples are NOT REPORTABLE as a Material Incident on the SSEC Summary Data Collection Form:
Student A trips student B at the bus stop on a regular basis. Student A and B have assigned seats on the bus and are in different wings and lunches at school. Therefore Student A and Student B have no contact other than at the bus stop. Student B does not want to ride the bus anymore so his parents are driving him to and from school.
Not reportable because bullying occurred at the bus stop only and did not carry over onto school property
Student A and student B are part of the same group of friends. Both girls like boy C and are trying to get his attention. Student A tells Student B that she is so ugly that Boy C won’t like her. Student B shoves Student A, which begins a fight. A teacher breaks up the fight and there are no injuries.
Not reportable because this is a conflict (not bullying) and did not result in physical injury
A group of boys make barking sounds and laugh whenever they see a particular female teacher in the hallways. This continues for 2 weeks. The teacher becomes increasingly uncomfortable walking alone in the hallways; she is asking male teachers to escort her thru the hallways. The teacher files a complaint of harassment.
Not reportable because DASA applies only to students as victims
Sally, an eleventh-grade transgender girl and her mother requested to meet with the principal and school counselor to inform her teachers that even though her school records indicate that her name is Samuel, she goes by the name Sally and uses female pronouns. With permission from Sally and her mother, the principal sent a letter to Sally’s teachers stating that student Samuel (Smith) wishes to be referred to by the name Sally (Smith), a name consistent with her female gender identity. The principal further stated staff should use Sally’s preferred name in all contexts, as well as the feminine pronouns, and that fellow students are expected to do the same. Although most of Sally’s teachers supported her and reminded the students to do the same, one of the teachers never addressed the students when Sally was intentionally and repeatedly referred to as Samuel, even after the mother and Sally herself told the teacher how upsetting this is to Sally. Sally has begun to skip this class and her grade is going down. The teacher is giving her detention for skipping class. Sally’s mother has filed a DASA Complaint against the teacher.
REPORTABLE to NYSED on the SSEC Summary Data Collection Form because the teacher is not supporting the use of Sally’s chosen name and the protection of gender under DASA includes gender identity and expression.
What does DASA require of schools?
- Identify an administrative designee to receive reports of harassment, bullying, and discrimination (i.e., the Dignity Act Coordinator);
- Enable students, family members, and others to make an oral or written report to school personnel;
- Require school employees to notify an administrator or designee (e.g., Dignity Act Coordinator) within one school day of witnessing or receiving a report of harassment, bullying, or discrimination, and to file a written report no later than two school days after such oral report/notification;
- Require administrators or a designee (e.g., Dignity Act Coordinator) to lead a thorough investigation of all reports of harassment, bullying, and discrimination that is completed promptly after the receipt of any written report and is recorded [in Part II of the DASA Incident Reporting Form];
- Upon verification of harassing, bullying, and/or discriminatory behavior, require the school to take prompt action(s) reasonably calculated to end harassment, bullying and discrimination, to eliminate any hostile environment, prevent recurrence of the behavior, and to ensure the safety of the student(s) against whom harassment, bullying or discrimination was directed;
- Prohibit retaliation against any individual who reports or assists in the investigation of harassment, bullying, or discrimination;
- Develop a school strategy to prevent harassment, bullying, and discrimination;
- Require school leaders to make a regular report to the superintendent regarding data and trends related to harassment, bullying, and discrimination;
- Require school administrators or designee(s) to promptly notify local law enforcement officials of harassment, bullying and/or discrimination when required to do so;
- Require that all school employees, students, and parents receive a copy of the district’s policies, including the process for reporting harassment, bullying, and discrimination, at least annually;
- Ensure that a current version of the district’s policies and procedures, including an incident report form (Sample Form Link), are maintained on the district’s website.
What is required to ensure that the Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC) contact information is widely accessible?
The name and contact information for the DAC should be shared in the following ways:
Listed in the Code of Conduct
Posted on the School/District Website
Posted in highly-visible areas of school building [Sample DAC Poster]
Available at District and school level administrative offices
Notify person in parental relation yearly
CR 100.2 (jj) (4) vii
What DASA training is required?
All employees (including instructional and non-instructional staff) should receive DASA training. The training should promote a positive school environment that is free from harassment, bullying and/or discrimination; and to discourage and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying, and/or discrimination on school property or at a school function, or off school property in the case of cyberbullying. The training should:
- Raise awareness and sensitivity to potential acts of harassment, bullying and/or discrimination directed at students that are committed by students and /or school employees
- Address the social patterns of harassment, bullying and/or discrimination, the identification and mitigation of such acts, and strategies for effectively addressing problems of exclusion, bias and aggression in educational settings
- Enable employees to prevent and respond to incidents of harassment, bullying and/or discrimination consistent with Education Law
- Make school employees aware of the effects of harassment, bullying, cyberbullying, and/or discrimination on students
(CR 100.2 (jj) 3)
In addition, the DAC (Dignity Act Coordinator) should 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.
(CR 100.2 (jj) (4) ii)
Is there a required or sample form to use to document incident investigations and interventions?
There is a sample form developed by the New York State Office of the Attorney General and New York State Education Department that can serve as a protocol for the investigation and intervention. [Link to SAMPLE AG Investigation Form] NYSED has developed the Individual Incident Report (IIR) form which contains all of the required information that must be collected for the School Safety and Educational Climate (SSEC) reporting. [Link to Individual Incident Report (IIR) Form] Neither form is required however they can serve as a guide for the type of information that is required. In addition, NYSED and the NYS Center for School Safety have developed sample forms for the entire process of responding to incidents including Student Action plans to discontinue bullying and keep targets safe. These forms are not required to be used but may assist you in responding more effectively and efficiently to incidents. [Link to SAMPLE Forms]
How long and where must the investigation records be kept?
The records must be kept at the school location where the incident occurred until the youngest child involved is 27 years old.* The records are not part of the student’s official school records and do not follow the student to another school.
*Records Retention and Disposition Schedule ED-1