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DASA coordinators get ‘refresher’ at workshop

Posted 12/9/22

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Safety Services conducted a Dignity for All Students Act refresher workshop recently at Central Valley Academy.

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DASA coordinators get ‘refresher’ at workshop

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ILION — Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Safety Services conducted a Dignity for All Students Act refresher workshop recently at Central Valley Academy to support local school DASA coordinators with their efforts to protect student dignity.

Kellie Maxwell, the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports coordinator and DASA and Crisis Prevention Intervention instructor for Herkimer BOCES Safety Services, facilitated the workshop along with some guest speakers. Maxwell emphasized that along with investigating DASA complaints, school officials also are aiming to improve school culture. 

The end-goal of DASA is essentially to eliminate bullying and harassment because the climate has changed, there is dignity for all and everyone is respectful, Maxwell said. Although 100% accomplishing that is not realistic, it can be the challenge that schools strive to conquer, she said. “We want an environment that honors dignity,” she said.

The New York State Education Department defines DASA as seeking to “provide the state’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.”

Herkimer BOCES component district DASA coordinators such as principals, school counselors, school social workers, school nurses and others attended either the morning or afternoon session. Herkimer BOCES Safety Services offer a refresher workshop annually.

In addition to Maxwell’s presentation, there were guest speakers to talk about restorative practices and legal aspects of DASA. Melissa Snyder, director of prevention and recovery services for Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, presented “Changing the School Climate through Restorative Practices.” Kristine Kiper and Kimberly Koch, school attorneys and labor relations specialists for the Madison-Oneida BOCES Labor Relations and Policy Office, presented “DASA Law and the Investigation Process.”

Maxwell spoke about many aspects of the DASA investigation process such as interpreting complains, determining if complaints are about bullying or conflicts, examining the clarity of offensiveness in the complaint from blatant to ambiguous and from unintentional to deliberate, remaining impartial and being thorough throughout an investigation, reminding yourself that you can respect someone and still give out consequences to hold the person accountable and looking for teachable moments.

The “DASA Law and the Investigation Process” presentation by Kiper and Koch reviewed the purpose and key elements of DASA and the roles and responsibilities of DASA coordinators. Other topics discussed included best practices in responding to and logging reports, the investigative process and fact-finding, documenting conclusions and reporting requirements and corrective responses and protective actions.

Snyder’s “Changing the School Climate through Restorative Practices” presentation showed how restorative practices focus on repairing harm, accepting responsibility, making changes and building a culture of respect.

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