RYE, N.Y. — Rye parents weighed in on a code of conduct Monday morning at the Middle School as the Rye City School District prepared to ratify the existing code to comply with the recently passed "Dignity for All Students Act." The law, an unfunded mandate passed in September of 2010, goes into effect July 1.
The act was established to "provide a school environment free of discrimination and harrassment." The act specifically defines harrassment as the "creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being."
While the district said the hearing has no connection to specific incidents, parents made reference to a June 1 incident that resulted in the arrest of three Rye High School juniors on hazing charges.
"You can talk about the code of ethics, you can talk about the new law, but I think you are getting lost in the weeds of something that has hit this community," Rye parent Bram Lewis said. "I'm floored the room isn't filled. This community should be up in arms about this. We should all be having a much more vocal response to this."
Rye mother and Midland School PO Co-president Karen Meyers said it is important to establish a "reactionary comittee" to help prevent future incidents.
"When something like just happened happens, there is a way to capitalize on this teaching moment," Meyers said. "You can't plan for the unexpected, but there needs to be a procedure."
Rye Board of Education member Josh Nathan spoke about the importance of educating and raising awareness among the student population about the consequences of bullying and harrassment.
"I think that's the hardest part about what we as a community have to do," Nathan said. "How do you explain to your kid what the rules are and how you evaluate the situation? That's more than a document, that's a daily discussion, that's parenting. The district can provide assistance and make that part of the dialogue and emphasize this community value, that's going to be a big step."