The most recent and comprehensive legislation regarding youth violence is the Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act, which went into effect on November 1, 2000. Commonly referred to as Project SAVE, this act aims to protect students and staff and ensure a safe climate for learning. It includes new initiatives with regard to student codes of conduct, student suspensions and school safety plans.

Here are some of the main points from the Project SAVE legislation that you, as counselors, need to be aware of:
  • Penalties for assaults by any individual upon a teacher or school employee, or by any non-student upon a student are raised from a misdemeanor to a Class D felony.
  • Teachers have the authority to remove disruptive students from the classroom pursuant to provisions of a locally adopted code of conduct. Students will not be able to return to the classroom until the principal makes a final determination about the case.
  • Boards of education are required to adopt a detailed code of conduct to provide for the maintenance of order on school grounds. This code must be developed in collaboration with student, teacher, administrator and parent organizations.
  • Boards of education are required to develop district-wide and building-level school safety plans that provide for crisis response and management.
  • School district employees are given "whistleblower" protection (i.e., immunity from civil liability and protection against retaliatory actions by their employers), if they make a report about a suspected act of violence.
  • Certified or licensed school personnel must report allegations of child abuse committed in an educational setting by school employees or volunteers.
  • The State Education Department must develop interpersonal violence prevention education and training packages for grades K - 12.
  • The Commissioner of Education is required to ensure that school conference days include school violence prevention and training. Teacher certification candidates will be required to complete two hours course work or training in school violence and prevention.
  • The Board of Regents is directed to include a civility, citizenship and character education component in the course of instruction in grades K - 12.
  • All prospective school district employees and all individuals who apply for certification will be fingerprinted for a criminal history background check.
  • The State Education Department and the Department of Criminal Justice Services must develop a uniform violent incident reporting system. School districts will be required to furnish information on violent and disruptive incidents at schools and to report such incidents to local enforcement authorities.
It is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the finer points of Project SAVE. To review this legislation in its entirety, visit http://assembly.state.ny.us/Reports/PandC/ProjSave/