The Dignity for All Students Act
(D.A.S.A.), 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. D.A.S.A. was signed into law September 13, 2010 and took effect July 1, 2012.
In complying with D.A.S.A., Susquehanna Valley has adopted the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP)
, the most-researched and best-known bullying prevention program available today. OBPP is designed to reduce existing bullying problems among students, prevent the development of new bullying problems, and to foster better peer relations at school.
Daniel Kosick, LMSW School Social Worker/Dignity Act Coordinator at Richard T. Stank Middle School, has spearheaded the program’s incorporation at Susquehanna Valley. The district has adapted these anti-bullying rules from the OBPP:
In talking about bullying, harassment and other related problems, it may be helpful to consider some definitions:
- Rule 1: We will not bully others.
- Rule 2: We will try to help students who are bullied.
- Rule 3: We will try to include students who are left out.
- Rule 4: If we know somebody is being bullied, we will tell an adult at school and an adult at home.
Harassment: Including but not limited to conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sex.Bullying: When someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself.
Misconduct: Improper or inappropriate behavior.
These behaviors typically involve aggression or an intent to harm, an imbalance of power or strength, and a pattern that is repeated over time. Susquehanna Valley’s anti-bullying strategy involves increasing awareness - within the schools and without - of what is considered bullying and/or harassment, and what to do if you spot it and are in a position to intervene. These steps, too, have been adapted from Olweus:
The Dignity for All Students Act requires districts to appoint at least one employee in every building as a Dignity Act Coordinator. These coordinators receive extensive training and, in turn, are responsible for training other district staff.
- Stop the bullying.
- Support the student who has been bullied.
- To the student(s) who bullied: Name the bullying behavior and refer to the four anti-bullying rules.
- Empower the bystanders with appreciation if they were supportive to the student who was bullied or with information about how to act in the future.
- Impose immediate and appropriate consequences for the student(s) who bullied.
- Take steps to make sure the student who is bullied will be protected from future bullying.
Susquehanna Valley CSD Dignity Act Coordinators:Brookside Elementary School: Anita Barry
Francis P. Donnelly Elementary School: Stacey Martin-Stilloe
Richard T. Stank Middle School: Dan Kosick
Susquehanna Valley High School: Heather Fitzgerald
So, what happens when bullying or harassment appears to be taking place? The district has adopted very clear and decisive procedures to file a complaint and respond to alleged incidents. As stated in the law, ALL school employees who are aware of an incident are mandated to inform the Dignity Coordinator and/or Principal by completing the Susquehanna Valley Central School District Incident Report Form
. These forms are located in each school’s main office, in the Social Worker’s office, and here on the SVCSD website.
All inquiries and harassment complaints filed with the District are confidential to the extent possible. Confidentiality also applies to the investigative process.
Students, or a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) who believe his/her student has been subjected to harassment by another student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel should report the incident(s) immediately to the Dignity Coordinator another school administrator, teacher, or counselor by completing the Susquehanna Valley Central School District Incident Report Form.
Upon receipt of a report or complaint alleging harassment, the appropriate building administrator shall undertake or authorize an investigation. The investigation will be completed as soon as practicable. Upon a finding that harassment has occurred, an appropriate response shall be fashioned by the appropriate administrator. Steps will be taken to protect the complainant, pupils, teachers, administrators or others participating in the investigation.
- We cannot turn a “blind eye” towards any bullying/harassment incidents.
- We must document and follow through with proper procedures when bullying/harassment occurs.
- We are ALL responsible for protecting our students from harassment/bullying. It is the law!
Dan Kosick on leading the anti-bullying efforts in our district:
“Our district actively prepared for DASA for well over one year. There were multiple presentations and trainings throughout the district, with more to come. Our job is to take prompt actions reasonably calculated to end such conduct, create a more positive school climate and culture, prevent recurrence of the behavior, and insure the safety of the student(s) subjected to such conduct. A comprehensive approach that involves EVERYONE is required. It is all of our responsibilities to provide students a learning environment free of discrimination and harassment. Bullying and harassment go hand in hand. The only thing at this moment that separates harassment and bullying is that harassment is targeted towards a person or group of people who are or are perceived to be in a protected class (race, religion, sex, etc.). Bullying is a form of harassment.”