On July 25, 2019, Governor Cuomo signed new legislation that expands the New York State Human Rights Law (Executive Law § 292). The law previously applied to education corporations, and it now applies more broadly to “educational institutions” which includes public elementary and secondary schools. This includes any public school (including charter schools), school district, BOCES, public college, and public university.
The change allows NY students to make a claim of harassment or discrimination against public schools resulting in liability for money damages if the Division of Human Rights determines that the school permitted a student to be harassed or discriminated against based on the student’s protected characteristic such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and a host of other characteristics protected by New York law. Public school students already are protected from bullying by DASA – the Dignity for All Students Act – and now they have a way to collect money damages.
Because the law already is in effect, traditional public and public charter schools as well as public colleges and universities across the State should ensure staff are trained. It’s an important topic for professional development. School personnel already should be aware of DASA and now should become equally familiar with these Human Rights Law changes.
For questions on this and other New York school law issues, The Coppola Firm can provide guidance.