Press Release

AALDEF Commends NYC Public School Regulation Against Bias-Based Harassment, and Urges City to Hold Public Comment Period

 
 

New York, NY — The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) commends Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chancellor Joel Klein and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for issuing an historic Chancellor’s Regulation today that defines, tracks, and aims to prevent bias-based harassment in the city’s public schools. This regulation was implemented after over a year of advocacy by AALDEF and partner agencies, including the Sikh Coalition and the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families.

“We believe the new regulation is a major step forward in the prevention of bias-based harassment in our education system, but we are deeply concerned by the lack of a public comment period before its issuance,” said AALDEF Staff Attorney Khin Mai Aung. She added, “Before the new regulation becomes final, the community must be given an opportunity to provide input and make it even stronger.”

Under the new regulation, students will have explicit protections against harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship/immigration status, religion, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation or disability. It also implements a system for reporting bias-based harassment, and requires schools to promptly investigate and report their findings. Furthermore, the regulation requires staff and students to be trained on diversity and bias-based harassment, and mandates yearly distribution of student rights to parents. These measures will undoubtedly create a safer school environment for all students. In particular, AALDEF has collected regular reports of anti-Asian harassment across the city, especially toward recent immigrants. Several years ago, harassment against immigrant Asian students at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn was so severe that the United States Department of Justice implemented a historic consent decree overseeing the school.

However, the regulation should be made even stronger, and AALDEF urges the DOE to commence a public comment period before this regulation’s final enactment. Students, parents, and community organizations deserve the chance to provide input and help formulate a regulation that truly meets their needs. Among other things, the regulation needs more specific requirements on language access and public reporting of data. To protect the most vulnerable students and parents, the regulation must specifically allow victims and others to make reports in their language of choice. The regulation must also create explicit record keeping requirements and mandate regular public reports. These reports must include data on the number and nature of harassment incidents, disaggregated by ethnicity, school, district, and grade level.

“AALDEF commends the DOE’s positive first step toward ending bias-based harassment in New York City public schools. We now urge the DOE to commence a public comment period, so that parents, students and other community members can provide input to further strengthen this important regulation,” said Aung.

For more information:
Khin Mai Aung
Staff Attorney
212.966.5932 ext. 219
kaung@aaldef.org

Brian Redondo
Program Associate, Educational Equity and Youth Rights Project
212.966.5932 ext. 210
bredondo@aaldef.org