Niagara Gazette

Communities

September 30, 2012

Bringing 'Dignity' to local schools

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

For Dean Ramirez, new principal at Lewiston-Porter Middle School, having the definitions in his pocket better enables him as school leader to root out issues so students can come to school both as physically and emotionally safe as possible.

"I think the main objective of the law is to make sure every child understands bullying and harassment is serious," he said. "To say (bullying) isn't going to happen is foolish, but now we have the tools to effectively handle the situation."

What about the Falls?

Fisher, a teacher on special assignment in the Falls' human resources department, has as firm a grasp on The Dignity Act as anyone in the area. It's his specialty this year, coordinating the training and implementation districtwide.

Each school in the city has its own personnel specifically trained in responding to issues and concerns brought up by students. In fact, the beauty of the act is its creation of these point people, who students at any grade level can safely see to work through any issues or describe things troubling them, he said.

"The students are protected, they have contact people at each building," Fisher said. "We've already had language in our code of conduct addressing bullying and cyberbullying, but The Dignity Act can only help. The act itself can only help."

In addition to the practical changes made in the schools, specifically the personnel designated to take the complaints, Niagara Falls has also used its website, www.nfschools.net, to allow parents and students to learn much more about Dignity For All Students. Fisher said everything anyone attending schools in the city or sending their children to school needs to know about the act and what it requires and provides is available on the site.

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