Sikh march in Queens leads to change in school regulations

[updates in italics]

The New York City school system has established a new process for reporting bias and bullying, prompted partially by Sikhs marching in Queens, led by the Sikh Coalition, two months ago. 1.1 million students will be affected by the new regulations. 6.30.08_march_rally_034__compressed.jpg

The new regulation which is intended to prevent bullying based on a students ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability comes two months after leaders of the Sikh population marched in Queens to protest attacks against Sikh students and what the leaders described as a lackluster response by the public school system. [link]

What is this new regulation? It includes several important provisions:

  • Every principal must designate a staff member to whom students can report bullying and harassment episodes.
  • A new e-mail address [email protected] has been set up so that students who have been harassed, but do not feel comfortable reporting it to their school, can seek help.
  • Each school must create an annual plan to ensure that it has a safe and supportive learning environment, and train students in the new rules so that they understand what behavior is prohibited and where to go for help if they have been bullied.
  • Schools will have to report all complaints of harassment, intimidation or bullying within 24 hours, and conduct full investigations, including interviews and written statements.
  • A full investigation of an incident within 5 days
  • A written report for the alleged victim of the results of any incident within 10 days
  • School staff members who witness or are told about bullying episodes must report them, and schools must contact the families of accused students. [link]

It seems that “Respect for All” will be a idea promoted by NY schools this coming year, and trends in bias-related bullying will also be tracked.

This year, schools are to distribute Respect for All brochures to all students and prominently post Respect for All posters. Also this year, the Education Department began a system that tracks bias-related episodes as part of a safety incident reporting system. The system is intended to allow principals and central administrators to detect trends in bullying. [link]

From a press release by the Coalition:

The Coalition looks forward to enhancing the regulation where necessary in the coming months and years and also working with the DOE to ensure that city schools are bias-free environments for all school children. The Sikh Coalition believes that todays announcement demonstrates strong movement to end bias in schools on the part of the Department.

I hope this new policy means that other students wont have to go through what I went through, stated Jagmohan Singh Premi, who was violently attacked on June 3, 2008 at Richmond Hill High school after almost a year of daily bias-based bullying. Sikh students should feel safe in their schools.

While this new regulation is an important step, it is only half the battle, stated Sonny Singh, Sikh Coalition Community Organizer. We will continue to review the safety of Sikh students in city schools and work to ensure that the regulation is fully implemented on the ground. The Sikh Coalition and our allies will continue our watchdog role. We will also continue to work with the DOE to secure new changes and enhancements to the regulation.

Congratulations to the Sikh Coalition and all the individuals who contributed to this success.


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9 Responses to “Sikh march in Queens leads to change in school regulations”

  1. Singh says:

    This is brilliant! Really happy to see those initiatives being adopted by NY Schools. Hopefully this can serve as a precedent for other states in the US and provinces in Canada. Unfortunately bullying is prevalent across North America and must be stopped. Many studies have researched bullying and concluded that bullying is not a "right of passage" and can be very traumatic and damaging for young people. The Sikh community must work to stop all types of bullying as it is our tradition to fight against oppression of innocent people.

  2. Singh says:

    This is brilliant! Really happy to see those initiatives being adopted by NY Schools. Hopefully this can serve as a precedent for other states in the US and provinces in Canada. Unfortunately bullying is prevalent across North America and must be stopped. Many studies have researched bullying and concluded that bullying is not a “right of passage” and can be very traumatic and damaging for young people. The Sikh community must work to stop all types of bullying as it is our tradition to fight against oppression of innocent people.

  3. P.Singh says:

    Excellent! Huge props to the Sikh Coalition and the NY Sikh community for its efforts. Like Singh above, I hope the systems put in place by the NY school system are adopted as a model in other areas.

    It will be interesting to look back on these systems after this school year, and see how effective they were in reducing bullying. Hopefully statistics and other relevant reports will be released to the public.

  4. P.Singh says:

    Excellent! Huge props to the Sikh Coalition and the NY Sikh community for its efforts. Like Singh above, I hope the systems put in place by the NY school system are adopted as a model in other areas.

    It will be interesting to look back on these systems after this school year, and see how effective they were in reducing bullying. Hopefully statistics and other relevant reports will be released to the public.

  5. baingandabhartha says:

    unfortunately bullying is present worldwide, a nasty human instinct. Doubt if legislation will make it go away-it will drive it off campus perhaps. I guess time will tell if there is a true effect.

  6. baingandabhartha says:

    unfortunately bullying is present worldwide, a nasty human instinct. Doubt if legislation will make it go away-it will drive it off campus perhaps. I guess time will tell if there is a true effect.

  7. gurpreet says:

    Kudos to all who helped. It will be foolish to think that this change came because of Sikh Coalition. There are a number of other non Sikh groups who have been mentioned in the mayor's Press Release, that have canvassed within their communities for such a change. ADL, CAIR, Sikh coalition, SALDEF and united sikhs have been canvassing for the rights of the children within their respective communities.

    Although a legislation change doesn't mean anything, it depends on how it can be brought into practise. Keep the good work up.

    Gurpreet

  8. gurpreet says:

    Kudos to all who helped. It will be foolish to think that this change came because of Sikh Coalition. There are a number of other non Sikh groups who have been mentioned in the mayor’s Press Release, that have canvassed within their communities for such a change. ADL, CAIR, Sikh coalition, SALDEF and united sikhs have been canvassing for the rights of the children within their respective communities.

    Although a legislation change doesn’t mean anything, it depends on how it can be brought into practise. Keep the good work up.

    Gurpreet

  9. […] the past, several posts have focused on the work of the Sikh Coalition around community mobilization to fight school bullying and the launch of an educational tool. As part of the Sikh Coalitions […]