Gov. Cuomo Signs Legislation, State Human Rights Law Extends Scope

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed legislation (S.4901/A.3425) extending the scope of the New York State Human Rights Law to cover public schools.

The legislation passed the state Assembly unanimously, 142-0, with no floor debate.

The measure also provides the state Division of Human Rights the ability to investigate reports of bullying, harassment or other forms of discrimination at public schools.

“Every student has the right to pursue an education free from bullying, harassment and discrimination,” Cuomo said. “By signing this bill into law, we are building on New York’s legacy of equality and fairness and guaranteeing public school students get the protections they deserve.”

New York was the first state in the nation to enshrine its values of equality and fairness into statute as a Human Rights Law. In a 2012 decision, the state Court of Appeals found that public schools were not covered education institutions under the Human Rights Law, and the state Division of Human Rights lost its ability to investigate reports of bullying, harassment, or other forms of discrimination by public school students. Cuomo said in a news release that the decision was made even though the Division of Human Rights had asserted jurisdiction over public schools for nearly three decades. The decision meant more than 70 open complaints filed against public schools were closed.

The legislation amends the Human Rights Law to protect all public school students and institutions from discrimination.


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