As National anti-Bullying month comes to a close, the Saratoga Springs City School District reviews the number of anti-bullying activities it sponsored.
Last week was anti-bullying week at Maple Avenue Middle School, while Saratoga High School held activities the first week in October, and the elementary schools also held a series of programs aimed at teaching children how to recognize, stop and even prevent bullying.
“We take all bullying seriously,” says Angelina Bergin, the district’s director of personnel services, and designated anti-bullying coordinator.
Like many districts across the state, Saratoga Springs this fall beefed up its anti-bullying efforts in order to comply with the new state law, Dignity for All Students Act, which went into effect in July.
According to the District’s website, “The New York State Dignity For All Students Act seeks to provide the state’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.
“The act states that NO student shall be subjected to harassment or discrimination by employees or students on school property or at a school function based on their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex.”
The district has added to its website a link to a bullying reporting form.
“Any time someone reaches out to us and shares a concern… it helps us work with their child,” says Bergin. She has received one report on the site so far this year.
For more general anti-bullying information and resources, click here.
Middle school students were invited to dress in black last Wednesday to show solidarity against bullies and bullying, in a “black-out bullying” campaign. All week, anti-bullying pins were on sale for a dollar, with proceeds going toward a district at-risk prevention program. There was also an anti-bullying poster contest and anti-bullying videos were shown during lunch periods.
At Saratoga High School’s "Anti-bullying" Day in early October, retired school resource officer John Kelly worked with students in gym and with staff in an after-school faculty meeting. The resource officer is a police officer who works in the schools on a variety of student life matters.
Bergin says that the district has a clear code of conduct and has always “embedded” character education in its curriculum. With DASA, however, discriminatory bullying against people based on their perceived “difference” comes with a stiffer penalty. DASA is a very prescriptive act, she says, that ensures the rights of protected groups of people. Faculty and staff also had training specific to DASA, Bergin says.
Each school building is now required to have a designated DASA coordinator. In Saratoga the building principals serve that purpose, except at the high school where it’s Assistant Principal Susan DeRoker.
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