FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, DEPUTY MAYOR FOR EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WALCOTT, CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER QUINN, AND SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR KLEIN ANNOUNCE EXPANSION OF ANTI-HARASSMENT INITIATIVES TO PREVENT BULLYING AND BIAS-RELATED INCIDENTS IN CITY SCHOOLS
Second Phase of ‘Respect for All’ Initiative Expands Trainings for School Staff, Creates New Accountability Standards
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced an expanded set of initiatives aimed at combating bullying and harassment in New York City public schools. Last year, the Department of Education added mandated reporting and investigation guidelines to its anti-bias “Respect for All” initiative, making New York City a national leader in efforts to combat bullying and harassment based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and other factors. The regulation requires schools to develop annual plans to convey appropriate standards of behavior to students and staff, to track and monitor all bias incidents, to investigate complaints properly, and to take follow-up steps to ensure that schools maintain safe and respectful learning environments. Building on this commitment, this year the initiative will expand the number of school-based staff required to attend Respect for All trainings so they are better prepared to confront and prevent negative behaviors. Principals will be provided with additional guidance in creating rigorous anti-bullying plans, and new measures will hold them accountable for enforcing those plans. For example, for the first time, efforts to combat bullying and harassment will factor into a school’s quality review.
“Students deserve to be free from harassment, discrimination, and violence at school – and that’s what Respect for All is all about,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We have set an example nationally in our efforts to combat intolerance and reduce bullying in our schools. These next steps will further ensure that students feel safe and respected at school, so they can focus on learning and reach their fullest potential.”
“Respect for All was a huge step forward in our work to ensure that schools are free from harassment and are places where students can focus on learning and growing,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “Building on this strong foundation, we’ve developed an aggressive set of phase two initiatives that will keep New York City at the forefront.”
“We have a responsibility to provide every student in New York City with a safe and inclusive learning environment,” said Speaker Christine Quinn. “Eliminating bullying and harassment in our schools is critical to preventing hate among future generations. For the past two years, we’ve been working with advocates and community members to expand our Respect for All program. And now, by increasing training opportunities and accountability, we’ve created the most comprehensive anti-harassment initiative in the nation.”
“A safe and secure learning environment is essential not only to students’ emotional health, but also to their academic success,” said Chancellor Klein. “By expanding training and support to our educators and parent leaders we can be confident that they have the resources to make every school the safe, supportive community our students need and deserve.”
The City launched the Respect for All program in 2007 to prepare teachers, guidance counselors, and other staff members to address bullying, harassment, and intimidation of students. Chancellor's Regulation A-832 built on this initiative by setting requirements for reporting and investigating incidents and mandated that every principal designate a staff member to whom students can report incidents. Beginning this year:
In addition, the Department of Education is offering new guidance and support to principals in developing their annual Respect for All plans. Respect for All plans were mandated last year for the first time. Building on that foundation, schools will now receive a set of guiding principles to ensure that their annual plans are rigorous, comprehensive, and effective. School Support Organizations will also assist schools in drafting their plans and will review them before they are finalized. The Department is also enhancing future Respect for All literature to ensure that students know how to report incidents of harassment by school staff as well as their peers.
Respect for All and Chancellor’s Regulation A-832 were developed in collaboration with several community advocacy partners, and more than 1,800 supervisors, teachers, and counselors have been trained since the program launched. The Department of Education is committed to continued collaboration with community partners and elected officials to reduce incidents of bias-based harassment and bullying. In particular, the Department is working with Speaker Quinn to seek federal funding to develop, pilot, and evaluate new staff trainings and to seek private funding to support development and implementation of new student lesson plans.
Stu Loeser / Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958
David Cantor (Department of Education)
Anthony Hogrebe (Speaker) (212) 788-7116