Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein will announce a groundbreaking comprehensive initiative later this morning at the Department of Education (DOE) headquarters to address bias-related harassment, intimidation and bullying in the New York City School system. The new Chancellor’s Regulation, A-832, will make New York City’s efforts to combat bullying and harassment based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other factors among the most rigorous in the country and build on the city's “Respect for All” initiative, according to organizers.
"The new steps outlined today will help us make sure that all students are afforded a safe and harassment free environment in which to learn," said Senior Counselor to the Chancellor Brian Ellner. You may remember Ellner was an openly gay candidate for Manhattan Borough President in 2005.
In 2004, Bloomberg vetoed anti-bullying legislation for New York City's public schools that had been passed by the City Council. The stated basis for the veto was because of jurisdictional control and the Mayor argued that the City Council did not have authority to legislate issues concerning the health and safety in schools. At the time, the veto angered leaders throughout the LGBT community in New York City. There is currently a Dignity for All Students Act pending in the state legislature. Today's move may pressure state lawmakers to follow the city's lead and pass it.
The new regulations are being unveiled this morning in coordination with Randi Weingarten, the President of the United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, who is also openly lesbian; Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, Kevin Jennings, the founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which includes the Harvey Milk High School, Drew Tagbliabue, the executive director of P-FLAG New York City, and local political leaders such as New York City Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell (Rosie’s brother).
Said Bloomberg of the initiative: "Bullying and harassment impede our students’ ability to learn. When students are victims of bullying because of race, sexual orientation, or other factors, they simply cannot focus on learning, and we cannot allow that. Our students should always feel safe at school, and these initiatives will help ensure that they do. By holding students and administrators accountable, and by giving victims more opportunities to seek help, we can create safer schools with healthier learning environments. Enforcing the Chancellor’s Regulation will not only ensure that incidents of bullying are handled swiftly and appropriately, it will also help prevent such incidents in the first place."
The new regulation establishes a new email address, RespectForAll@schools.nyc.gov, where students who have experienced bullying behavior and are hesitant to report it to their school can turn for help.
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