The newly implemented Dignity Act, which was signed into law Sept. 13, 2010, took effect on July 1. Port Washington Public School officials recently revealed how the law will protect students.
According to Hank Hardy, director of guidance counseling at Schreiber High School, the Dignity Act aims to protect all students from harassment whether it’s physical or verbal from other students or staff.
“It basically protects students against unfair behavior, such as discrimination, weight, disability, sexual preference and sexual orientation,” Hardy said at a recent school board meeting, where there was a presentation about the Dignity Act. “This will provide heightened awareness against unpleasant, hostile situations in schools.”
Pia Sanchez, assistant principal of Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School, said the idea behind the Dignity Act is to create a safe, supportive school environment.
“Group coordinators with teams of three have been recently set up within the Port Washington Schools,” Sanchez said. “These teams consist of an administrator, a counselor and a psychologist for each school building. There have also been sensitivity training classes as of Aug. 30, 2012 for all teachers, teaching assistants, custodial and clerical staff employees.”
Schreiber High School Assistant Principal Dr. Brad Fitzgerald is glad that the government finally came through with this legislation.
“There will be Dignity Act pamphlets presented to each social studies class at Schreiber,” he said. “There will also be additional staff training about this.”
The presentation came to an end, closing with a phrase that all parents, students and teachers can live by: “Sticks and stones can break our bones, but words can hurt me too – spread the word to end the word.”
The Dignity Act coordinators of the Port Washington school district include Hank Hardy; who oversees the Dignity Act, Schreiber High School Principal Ira Pernick, Schreiber Assistant Principal Dr. Brad Fitzgerald and Schreiber High School Guidance Counselor Adrianna Pollack.