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March 27, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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Guidance on Rights of Immigrant Students and Dignity for All Students Act Now Available in 20 Languages

Recently issued guidance on the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) and on the rights of immigrant students is now available in the top 20 languages spoken in New York State, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced today.  In response to a rising number of reports on bullying, discrimination and harassment across the country and the fear and confusion resulting from recent federal actions, the State Education Department, in partnership with the Attorney General’s office, provided guidance to school districts on these important topics.  Now parents, guardians and other interested individuals have expanded access to this critical guidance.

“When we stand together, we ensure that our students feel safe and supported in their school environments,” Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said.  “We must reaffirm our commitment to providing educational sanctuaries, where students are free to learn regardless of their race, ethnicity, language spoken at home, immigration status, sexual orientation or any other basis.  We must embrace all children as our own, with warmth and compassion.”

“The New York State Education Department takes very seriously any action that compromises the school climate in which our students come to learn every day,” Commissioner Elia said.  “All of our students have a right to a free education and no child should fear going to school.  We must do everything in our power to create safe and supportive learning environments, including providing all parents and guardians the resources they need to be informed of their rights and the rights of their children.”

“All families deserve to send their children to schools where they can learn without fear, harassment, or discrimination,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Our message is clear: school districts have a duty to protect the rights of their students -- no matter the draconian policies coming out of Washington. I’m proud to continue to partner with Commissioner Elia and SED to ensure this message is heard loud and clear around the state.”

The Department has now made available resources for parents, guardians, and other interested individuals translated into the top 20 languages spoken across New York State.  Those are: Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese, French, Fulani, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Nepali, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Somali​, Spanish, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Wolof.  This expands and builds upon work being done in conjunction with the New York State Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to ensure students’ rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the law.  

Translated materials include those issued recently by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Commissioner Elia, reminding school districts of their duty to comply with existing state and federal laws that ensure the rights of immigrant children to attend New York’s public schools without fear of reprisal.  The guidance provides districts with relevant information pertaining to their duties under the law with respect to their students and the confidentiality of student records.  

Additionally, guidance and resources to help school staff, students, and parents report and address incidents of harassment, bullying and discrimination, as well as to enhance efforts to build and maintain positive school climates pursuant to DASA are available. 

The guidance and resources are available in 20 languages here.

Information on immigration-related actions is available here.

Information on guidance and resources under DASA is available here.