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Thursday, March 29, 2018

The NYC DOE Goes After Bullies in Schools

Every time I see a new Department of Education (DOE) policy, I feel a twinge of hope.

This feeling goes away quickly. I remember that a rule, law, or regulation is only as good as the implementation and follow up. These type of actions are almost never available in the Department.

The DOE does not have consequences which are uniform across the board, and we can all see the random manner that anyone can get away with anything as long as you are the right color and socio-economic status. My opinion - so sorry to break your bubble if you think that segregation and the rich-poor gap are no longer NYC facts. I get worn out quickly - don't you? - hearing about the new curriculum, the new way to evaluate teachers, the new Renewal Program, etc., etc. and yet there are kids who are bullied, and it never stops.

I have loved history since I learned to read, and know that George Santayana's quote is correct:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." 

There are repetitions all over the place.

I decided to finally read a book I bought on Amazon ($6.99) that calls out to be read: "110 Livingston Street, Politics and Bureaucracy in New York City Schools"  by David Rogers, Random House, 1968. On p. 5, Rogers wrote:
"In the words of one cynic, the New York City school system is the nightmare toward which many others are moving".

The title of Chapter 1? Here it is:


But there's that twinge again, when the DOE goes for a policy change that seems to be in the right direction, especially against a DOE internal epidemic namely bullying. I'm going to hope that now kids who are being bullied in school can, indeed, get relief (see the below articles from Time Out and NY POST) and transfer to another school "automatically".... whatever that means. Remember, it's implementation and follow up that makes a law, rule or regulation "work".

I'm not going to breathe a sigh of relief as NY POST Reporter Selim Algar, an excellent writer, suggests, but I'm feeling that twinge. Maybe this time.....

Betsy Combier
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials 

Jim Walden (picture by Natan Dvir)
City education department will overhaul protocols for bullying
 NY POST, March 14, 2018    
Parents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that New York City's Department of Education is planning to further assess the issue of bullying in schools.
A class action lawsuit two years ago suggested that schools were not properly handling bullying situations, which ultimately lead to violence and a lack of safety in the halls. Now, a more vigorous plan is set to take effect thanks to the settlement's provisions, according to Patch
So what can parents expect to see change in their children's school? DOE members will have to report an incident they hear or read about within one school day. From there, an investigation must be conducted within 10 days. The DOE is also required to assemble a team that trains school staff to prevent, report and investigate bullying cases that arise.
The city Department of Education has been forced to overhaul the way it handles complaints of student bullying as part of a lawsuit settlement with parents of tormented children.
Frustrated by what they see as the DOE’s failure to curb abuse in city schools, the parents filed a class action suit against the department in 2016.
The case was finally settled this week, with the DOE agreeing to revamped protocols that will radically reset their approach to the problem.
The suit – organized by the since disbanded charter backer Families for Excellent Schools — accused the DOE of routinely ignoring bullying gripes.
“This settlement finally brings meaningful reform to a troubled and broken system that placed every New York City school student in dire and dangerous circumstances,” said plaintiff attorney Jim Walden Wednesday.
“I am deeply proud of these parents who had the courage to say ‘enough is enough’ as they stood up not only for their own children but for all children.”
Under the settlement terms, any student victimized by another classmate one or more times will be automatically granted a transfer to another school when requested, court papers state.
“This precedent-setting measure signifies that children will no longer be trapped in dangerous, prolonged bullying scenarios by the very system charged with safeguarding their education and welfare,” read a statement from the law firm that handled the case, Walden Macht & Haran.
Parents also alleged in the suit that the DOE or school staffers routinely ignored their bullying complaints, no matter how severe or persistent.
The settlement will now force the DOE to implement an electronic reporting system by 2019-2020 for parents to submit their complaints.
The setup will also allow them to track the department’s responses to their cases.
Moms and dads will receive confirmations of their complaints within a day and the DOE will be required to provide a determination within 10 days, court papers state.
As part of the deal, the DOE must also create a separate system for parents to “report and track” incidents of physical or verbal abuse by DOE staff along with a dedicated information hotline.
“Compliance with all mandated steps reached in the settlement will be tracked by the electronic system,” the firm said. “Every single violation will be exposed through publicly available biannual reports.”
Roxana Hardy, a parent who signed on to the suit after her daughter was bullied to the point that she suffered recurring nightmares, said she hoped the settlement would help combat the plague.
“You try so hard as a parent to help your kids,” she said. “I am praying and hoping that this corrects the problem. There will finally be someone who has to answer for this.”
“The DOE has initiated numerous reforms to strengthen its anti-bullying programs to ensure safe and inclusive learning environments in every school building,” said city law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci. “This settlement reflects and expands on these initiatives in the best interest of the City and its students.”
NYC Department of Education to put new anti-bullying measures in place

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