New state laws influence school districts

It is time for the kids to go back to school. I wish them all well in their new academic year. This year, there are new state laws that will affect schools. Here is a list of a few of them that passed the Legislature in 2010. Some have been signed by the governor and made law and others await delivery to the Governor's office.

Dignity for All Students Act

The Dignity for All Students Act prohibits discrimination or harassment in public schools, on school buses or in any activity or program conducted by the public schools. This law was created so New York State would be in compliance with federal regulations that coincided with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The act also incorporates additional civility and citizenship instruction, including topics on tolerance, awareness, and civility in the relations of people of different races, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, mental or physical abilities, gender, weights and sexes in schools. This passed both houses but has not been delivered to the Governor yet for a signature.

Teacher Effectiveness and Student Performance Measures

This year the Legislature passed a comprehensive statewide system of teacher and principal evaluation as it relates to student performance. School districts and school boards are working with the Department of Education on developing evaluation measures which will be implemented through 2013. In addition, this law enhances a school district's ability to intervene in persistently low-level achievement schools and schools under registration review by partnering with organizations that have expertise in turning around a low-performing school. This would be subject to the authority of the board of education.

I voted in favor of this measure. We should hold our educators accountable for student performance and give districts the tools they need to help turn around a struggling school in need for the sake of the whole community. This has been signed by the Governor.

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