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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Free Ride for Bullies

Check out this NY Times oped -- by education advocates Neha Singh and Khin Mai Aung --pointing out that DOE officials have refused to enforce the anti-bullying law passed by the City Council in 2004, called the Dignity for All Students Act:

"The bill requires the New York City Department of Education to establish procedures to protect children. These include creating anti-harassment policies and communicating them to students, parents and administrators in several languages; reporting annually on incidents of harassment; and explicitly making harassment a basis for disciplinary action. "

Because of this refusal, the Department has given scant attention towards stemming the bullying of students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds; and no "tracking of harassment incidents, educational outreach and mandating meaningful annual reports on bias in schools."

This is yet another example of how the DOE sees themselves as above the law.

The op-ed relates the example of a Sikh student named Harpal Singh Vacher who had his turban forcibly removed and his hair shorn in a school bathroom.

"The department must do more to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect in our schools. As a result, children like Harpal are suffering."

1 comment:

Susan Nehama said...

Our son had to leave P.S. 158 because of the bullying he encountered there. In second grade his teacher refused to acknowledge it - even though several parents, the cafeteria staff and a substitute teacher had reported it. My child was almost suspended when he physically went after (but did not touch) a serious bullier after months of torment. And the bullier, his role in the incident was totally dismissed. The school accused my child of giving the child a black eye. It was later found out the child had gotten it at home. Did the bullier get admonished (and their were several witnesses to the confrontation)for his behavior that led to the incident? No - but my son was going to be hogtied and suspended. One teacher secretly cheered his actions and his relative self-control over the year.

We did not get any action until we started to document the incidents. The key wording for all parents is to ask your principal about how they would react if a child was being punched in the stomach every day by another child. How would they respond to that situation and you expect the bullying to be takenas seriously. Bullying should be reported directly to a principal. Stop messing around with teachers - they turn a blind eye to it (many just shrug and say - we will talk about it which has never stopped it). It is key to put everything in writing. If a school official does not respond to it - most courts treat it as acceptance of what is being stated by the letter writer in these situations. ANd why is this important? You may end up in front a judge one day for an impartial if the the case is particularly bad.

One mother had the audacity to tell me her son couldn't help bullying my child because he had a low self esteem and that I should be more understanding. I am understanding - but not to the point where my child should suffer.

Anyway, after the letters the bullying magically stopped. The smart kids must have had a talking to because they didn't want a suspension on their file. The one not so smart kid got an in school suspension - and left my kid alone after that.

Needless to say, he is now approved for a non-public school funded by guess who - the taxpayers of NYC. So either way, whether your child is affected or not, we all just ended up paying the price for it.