O'Donnell's Anti-Bullying Legislation Passes Assembly; Enactment Could Boost 'Race to the Top' Score

May 25, 2010 – On May 17th, 2010, Assembly Member O'Donnell's Dignity For All Students Act (DASA) passed the Assembly with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and only four opposing votes. This marks the ninth time this anti-bullying and anti-discrimination legislation has passed the Assembly since 2002.

The bill covers the broadest categories of students who face harassment and discrimination in our state's schools and clarifies that those protections should not be limited to the categories listed—actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or sex.

Recently, the New York Civil Liberties Union championed the measure and released its analysis that enacting DASA could boost New York's ‘Race to the Top' score by 7-15 points. DASA requires reporting on all bullying incidents, which meets the U.S. Department of Education's emphasis on capturing data that impacts student achievement. A successful application in this second round could net New York up to $700 million in education funding.

Working closely with the N.Y.S. Department of Education and his colleagues, Assembly Member O'Donnell has crafted legislation that can be easily implemented and will more likely accomplish its intended effect.

On the day of the bill's passage, Assembly Member O'Donnell remarked, "Too many students are bullied based on real or perceived differences with their classmates. Every student deserves an environment free of harassment and discrimination—an environment that allows every child to reach his or her full potential. For too long, our education system has been blind to the plight of these students. I am proud that the Assembly remains willing to address this important issue, and that the Dignity for All Students Act continues to win support."

DASA would afford all public school students an environment free of harassment and discrimination and improve New York State's chances to receive an infusion of school aid. The bill has been endorsed by Governor Paterson but languishes in the Senate.

Assembly Member O'Donnell calls upon the Senate Leadership to immediately pass DASA in that chamber.

Assembly Member O'Donnell has represented the 69th Assembly District since 2003. His district includes Morningside Heights, Manhattan Valley, and portions of the Upper West Side and West Harlem. He currently serves as the Chair of the Ethics and Guidance Committee; Chair of the Subcommittee on Criminal Trial Procedures; and as a member of the Education; Codes; Environmental Conservation; Judiciary; Oversight, Analysis & Investigation; and Tourism, Arts & Sports Development committees.

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