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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mayor: anti-harassment measure "illegal" and "silly"

On Monday, City Council members and advocates blamed the Department of Education of "turning a blind eye" to discrimination and bullying in our schools.

On May 25, a 15 year old Sikh student was attacked in the bathroom of Newtown High School in Queens by another student, and had his hair cut off. Apparently, he had complained to staff of similar harassment five times before but nothing had been done. A DOE spokeswoman said no record of the student's complaints could be found.

Councilmembers John Liu, Robert Jackson, and David Weprin held a press conference to protest the fact that the anti-harassment legislation passed by the City Council in 2004 known as the Dignity for all Schools Act, or DASA, has never been enforced . The legislation not only prohibits bullying, but also requires DOE to follow certain procedures to track and report all such incidents.

When the City Council first passed the law, Mayor Bloomberg called it "silly" and vetoed it. He said that it was up to teachers and principals to judge "when the horseplay gets out of hand."

"Having a law to do it doesn't make any sense. You cannot force the teachers or the principals to follow some script. They are professionals, and you have to leave it up to them to do it."

After the Council overrode his veto, Tweed officials refused to attend hearings on the issue, insisted that they would not comply with the law and declared the measure “illegal,” claiming that their authority over our schools can only be overridden by the state.

Meanwhile, according to a recent report, more than three-quarters of male Sikh students in Queens say they have been teased or harassed in city schools. "The Department of Education is as guilty as these boys in that bathroom for what happened," said Councilman Liu at the press conference.

For more on this latest incident, see NY1 clip and the AM NY article here.


NYC Educator said...

This is the mayor's MO. I'm always amazed when my union wins victories with this mayor that entail his agreeing to follow contracts or laws. You'd think people would be outraged if that were not a given.

Sadly, you'd be dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

"You cannot force the teachers or the principals to follow some script. They are professionals, and you have to leave it up to them to do it." Can we plaster that quote all around the city. We should through that quote BloomKleins face 24/7. If only they could be persuaded to understand that we are the professionals, and education should be left up to us.

Anonymous said...

My bad "throw". Haven't had my coffee yet.