The New York State Dignity for All Students Act (DASA or Dignity Act) went into effect on July 1, 2012, in order to further support students within a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying. Under the Dignity Act, harassment is defined as “creation of a hostile environment by conduct or 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 or physical well-being.”
The Dignity Act states that no student shall be subjected to harassment or discrimination by employees or students on school property or a school function based on their actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and/or sex.
Dignity Act Coordinators and other school requirements
The Dignity Act requires that each school within a district have at least one staff member who is trained to handle non-discriminatory instructional counseling methods and handling human relations. If you or your child has an act of bullying to report, please contact your school’s Dignity Act Coordinator or designee.
In addition, schools are required to provide training for their employees to underscore the importance of a positive school environment that is free from discrimination and harassment; to raise awareness and sensitivity about discrimination and harassment; and to discourage, prevent and respond to discrimination or harassment on school property or at a school function.
As part of the annual requirement to familiarize students with the Code of Conduct, schools are also required to inform students of behavioral expectations under the Dignity Act.
Supporting positive environment in our schools
Goshen’s four schools all have character-building, positive climate and anti-bullying initiatives and programs. All faculty and staff members are trained in the requirements of the Dignity Act to help ensure the safety of our students. Each school hosts a student assembly to review DASA as well as where to seek help or report incidents of harassment. Many character-building assemblies and activities are also held throughout the year.
Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School
Responsive Classroom: Responsive Classroom is a school-wide approach used to help children thrive academically, socially and emotionally. It has several basic principals that build character, responsibility and mutual respect. Each teacher holds a morning meeting where students greet each other, share news of interest with their peers and participates in an activity. This daily routine builds a sense of community, teaches courtesy and politeness and enforces self-confidence and respect.
Buddy Bench: In 2015, the PTO purchased a Buddy Bench for the Scotchtown Avenue playground. The purpose of a Buddy Bench is to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground, spreading a message of inclusion and kindness to students.
Scottie Awards: Scottie Awards are given to students for following the school rules: listen to the speaker, keep your body safe and in control, take care of classrooms and school, treat others with kindness.
Character Education units and lessons of study: Each classroom and grade level is equipped with a character education binder and lessons/units pertaining to acceptance, tolerance, and basic character skills.
Goshen Intermediate School
Positive Behavior Interventions and Support: The Goshen Intermediate School has set three behavioral expectations: to be Respectful, to be Ready and to be Safe. These are taught in the beginning of the school year.
Peaceful Playground: Different playground areas with different activities minimizes negative behavior.
GIS Behavior All-Stars: Each Friday, students are rewarded for good behavior. The All-Stars are displayed on grade level bulletin boards and announced during morning announcements, are recognized during lunch and receive the star and sticker from the principal.
Cyberbullying awareness: Students learn about cyberbullying during computer lab.
Classroom curriculum: Health units focus on personal and mental health, stress management, suicide prevention, violence prevention and social tolerance; physical education curriculum promotes character education, cooperative learning and team building; general classroom curriculum promotes positive learning environments and appropriate behavior.
School and PTO sponsored activities: Father/Son Fitness Night addresses team work and unity; the Mother/Daughter Tea spreads a message of tolerance and acceptance; the Walking Club, held during recess, allows students to work together toward a common goal of completing laps.
C. J. Hooker Middle School
Cyberbullying awareness: Students learn about cyberbullying while in the classroom and while using the computer lab. Cyberbullying Awareness week takes place in January so that students can learn more about Internet safety.
Rachel’s Challenge: Rachel’s Challenge is an emotionally-charged school assembly based on the life of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999. The program’s goal is to help schools across the country create safer learning environments by inspiring students to change the way they treat others. The assembly was offered in November 2012.
Peer Mediation: This group provides students with the knowledge and skills to resolve their own problems. Students are trained to be peer mediators. Students can be referred to mediation by teachers, staff, or other students.
Mentor Program: Middle school faculty and staff serve as mentors to students in the building. Mentor programs have historically proven to be highly effective in helping students succeed in many areas of their development. The middle school program blends emotional development, social and interpersonal skills, and academic achievement through encouragement, instruction and modeling good behavior practice on a one-to-one basis.
DASA activities and assembles: Students attend an assembly to learn about DASA as well as character building, respect and tolerance. Anti-bullying activities include creating a Unity Tree, small group activities, drawing posters and viewing videos.
Unisex bathrooms: Unisex bathroom and locker room facilities are now available for students and staff members at the C. J. Hooker Middle School. The purpose is to ensure that all students and employees are provided a safe and supportive environment, as per the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Questions may be directed to Principal William Rolon at 615-6300.
Clubs and activities: Various clubs promote awareness toward positive social interaction and respect for others such as Allies for All, Diversity Club, Girls’ Leadership, Leo Club, Sixth Grade Walk and Talk Club, Student Activities and Student Government.
Goshen High School
Rachel’s Challenge: Rachel’s Challenge is an emotionally-charged school assembly based on the life of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999. The program’s goal is to help schools across the country create safer learning environments by inspiring students to change the way they treat others. The assembly was offered in October 2010 for freshmen and sophomores – now juniors and seniors.
Friends of Rachel (FOR) Club: Members of the Friends of Rachel Club partner with Rachel’s Challenge to continue the chain reaction of kindness and compassion in the high school and local community. The club’s main goal is to help create a permanent cultural change in our school of tolerance, respect and kindness.
Peer Mediation: This group provides students with the knowledge and skills to resolve their own problems. Students are referred by their teachers or apply to become mediators, who are trained to counsel students who are experiencing conflicts with peers.
Unisex bathrooms: Unisex bathroom and locker room facilities are available for students and staff members at Goshen High School. The purpose is to ensure that all students and employees are provided a safe and supportive environment, as per the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Questions may be directed to Principal Robert McKiernan at 615-6100.
Clubs and activities: Various clubs promote awareness toward positive social interaction and respect for others such as the Cultural Diversity, Interact Club, Leo Club, LGBTQ+ and Allies, Student Activities and Student Senate.