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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

AG HEALEY ISSUES GUIDANCE TO SCHOOLS TO HELP PREVENT AND ADDRESS HATE AND BIAS

 AG HEALEY ISSUES GUIDANCE TO SCHOOLS TO HELP PREVENT AND ADDRESS HATE AND BIAS

Provides Guidance and Resources to Assist Schools 

BOSTON – To help ensure that all students across Massachusetts feel safe and supported, Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office today issued guidance to school officials about their legal obligations to prevent and address hate and bias incidents at their educational institutions. At a time of heightened strain in school communities, the AG’s Office is providing guidance and resources to help schools respond properly if a hate incident occurs. 

The AG’s Guidance on Schools’ Legal Obligations to Prevent and Address Hate and Bias Incidents, which was sent today to school superintendents, charter school leaders, and school administrators, describes how schools must respond to hate and bias incidents involving students and what proactive steps schools must take to prevent such incidents. It also highlights several best practices that schools should consider for preventing and responding to hate incidents. The AG’s Office is also offering a directory of relevant training and other resources. The Office wants to ensure that all school officials have the information and tools that they need if a hate incident occurs 

“I commend our school leaders, teachers, and staff across the state who have been on the front lines of providing essential educational and social-emotional services during this time of uncertainty and distress amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and as we’re all grappling with racial injustice and its negative effects on individuals and society as whole,” said AG Healey. “We want to make sure schools have the information and support they need to address and prevent incidents of hate and bias and ensure that every student can learn in a nurturing and welcoming environment, free from bullying and harassment.”

The AG’s Office has recently engaged with school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members who are concerned about hate incidents in the state’s elementary and secondary schools and who are re-examining the role of schools in preventing and addressing these incidents. Student misconduct that involves hate, bias, or prejudice can have a devastating impact on victims and can severely disrupt the school environment. The AG’s Guidance is designed to assist schools in their continuing efforts to combat hate and foster a safe, supportive, and inclusive educational environment, consistent with their obligations under state law.

The AG’s Guidance, which can be found here, describes schools’ obligations to prevent and respond to hate and bias incidents under Massachusetts’s anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws; details required, affirmative steps to help create a positive school climate and prevent these incidents; and provides examples of best practices to implement education, prevention, and remediation measures. A list of additional resources for schools can be found here.

The AG’s Office is committed to securing the civil rights of all students in Massachusetts. If you have questions about this Guidance or other civil rights concerns, you may contact the Office online or at 617-963-2917.

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