On Thursday, February 17, 2022, the Batavia City School District Board of Education voted unanimously on a resolution endorsing New York State Senate Bill S7600 and Senate Bill S1477A, which serve as amendments to provisions of the State Education and Penal Laws to address an increase in harassment made through the use of electronic communications.
The State Senate has introduced Senate Bill S7600, sponsored by Senator Edward A. Rath III, amending the State Education Law to include a provision that a person who engages in a repeated course of cyber-bullying of a minor shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor, and Senate Bill S1477A, amending the State Penal Law to include contacts via text, private message, direct message, or email or other electronic communication in the definition of the offense of aggravated harassment in the second degree. S7600 is currently under review by the State Senate Education Committee, and S1477A has passed the State Senate and is awaiting passage by the State Assembly.
The Batavia City School District's Code of Conduct expressly prohibits all forms of bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying. With the approval of the resolution, "the Board of Education hereby affirms its commitment to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment for its students free from all forms of bullying, including cyber-bullying, and supports the efforts of the State Senate to adopt legislation which is consistent with that commitment. This resolution shall take effect immediately."
"It was important for the Board of Education to show our support for Senator Rath's cyberbullying bill. It is our top priority to ensure students in our district remain safe, healthy, and free from bullying of any kind–and the endorsement of this bill affirms that," said Alice Ann Benedict, BOE President.
"We were happy to work with Senator Rath on endorsing this important and timely initiative. We look forward to the bill passing for the safety of the students throughout New York State," said BCSD Superintendent Jason Smith.
"It is no secret that our children are facing many challenges these days. Unfortunately, with the rise in internet use comes the danger of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying incidents are on the rise, and we must do something to protect our children. That is why I have introduced legislation to make cyberbullying a misdemeanor. Teaching our children that their actions on the internet carry consequences is critical," said Senator Rath.