Dignity for All Students Act

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Dignity for All Students Act

April 24, 2024

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S3180 Hoylman-Sigal / A1829 Jean-Pierre 
Includes private, independent and religious schools under the provisions of the “Dignity for All Students Act”

The above referenced legislation would force the state’s religious and independent schools to comply with the provisions of Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2009, despite the clear and explicit exclusion of such schools from the act when drafted and enacted by lawmakers some 16 years ago. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

When enacting DASA in 2009, lawmakers recognized that its application must be limited to government-created and government-run schools. In respecting the well-established independence and religious nature of the state’s private schools, lawmakers went so far as to explicitly exclude such schools from the application of the law by setting forth in Section 17 of the act: “Nothing in this article shall: 1. Apply to private, religious or denominational educational institutions . . .” Lawmakers at the time and in the intervening years since, have consistently recognized that by imposing provisions on religious schools that violate religious tenets, they would be forcing such schools to cease operating, thereby denying thousands of parents the right to elect a religious education for their children.

These fundamental concerns aside, the measure would also impose an extensive data collection and reporting mandate on schools for which no funding is provided. The imposition of additional costs would necessarily increase the dual burden already shouldered by tuition-paying families who also pay enormous taxes to support government-run schools.

The state’s religious and independent schools pride themselves on more than two centuries of successfully educating millions of children and preparing them to be loving, respectful adults and productive citizens. Our schools respect the infinite dignity of every student and maintain zero tolerance for bullying behaviors for any reason. We believe this measure is essentially a heavy-handed solution in search of a problem.

This measure represents a direct threat to the religious liberty and missions of such schools, and we urge its defeat.