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Blind Brook Widens Anti-Bullying Measures

RYE BROOK, N.Y. – Blind Brook Schools are embracing a new bullying prevention program, a new honor code and beefed up its academic integrity policy this year as part of the district’s efforts to meet new state standards of student conduct.

The measures were adopted to meet the requirements of the state-mandated Dignity for All Students Act , which went into effect July 1. The act is a state mandated program intended to create school environments free from “discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.”

Two committees of teachers are being trained this week to instruct the remainder of elementary and middle schools staff - including clerical, school bus drivers and aides - in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program .

“This is an initiative that really requires the involvement of everyone that works in the school building,” said Mary Mediate, director of guidance and a Dignity Act coordinator. The program is researched in creating safer school environments, according to the district.

The Dignity Act requires schools to file reports on incidents of harassment or discrimination the same day an incident occurs on school property or at school functions. The report must be submitted to the building’s Dignity Act coordinator.

The act mirrors federal civil rights laws in recognizing protected groups of students, or those who could be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, religion, religious practice, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnic group or weight/physical appearance.

In addition, while the district always had an academic integrity policy, an Academic Integrity Committee was formed in 2009 after receiving what the district considered concerning results of an integrity survey taken by staff and students, according to Mediate. As part of its new approach to academic integrity , each student is required to sign an honor pledge that will be printed on every test or quiz, writing assignment or other homework projects. Each pledge will be tailored according to grade level.

“We want them to understand that their integrity comes from within rather than by virtue of the fact that ‘I signed something,’” said Superintendent William Stark.

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