Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Eliminating Discriminatory Language from Parts of Education Law and Prohibiting Intimidation and Retaliation Against Students

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation to protect the rights of students in New York by eliminating a sexist and racist term from certain sections of education law. Legislation (S.6744/A.7981) is intended to address the stigma and historical racial bias of being labeled ‘incorrigible’ by removing the term from reference in education law. Additionally, Governor Hochul signed legislation (S.6529/A.9391), which explicitly prohibits discrimination, intimidation, and retaliation against proprietary school students who file a complaint or exercise their right of private action.

“It is essential that New York’s educational institutions are places where all students, no matter how they look or express themselves, can pursue their fullest potential free from bias and intimidation,” Governor Hochul said. “In New York, our diversity is our strength, and this legislation will help ensure that young women, especially young women of color, are not stigmatized by this outdated term and are protected from abuses of power.”

Legislation (S.6744/A.7981) is intended to address the stigma of being labeled ‘incorrigible’ by removing the term from reference in education law. ‘Incorrigible,’ or ‘incapable of being corrected, not reformable’ as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a term that has historically been applied to girls of color for behavior that is not stereotypically feminine. This bill aims to right the historical wrongs of racial bias and discrimination that stemmed from use of the word by removing reference to the term “incorrigible” in education law.

State Sen. Julia Salazar said, “With the enactment of this legislation, we have fully removed the word “incorrigible” from New York law as a term that has been used to target, stigmatize, and criminalize children who did not fit into certain standards of behavior. This term has been used historically, in particular, to punish girls and young women of color who resist or do not fit in to sexist expectations of how girls should behave.Last year we deleted this word from the Family Court Act and now we are finishing the task by removing “It from the Education Law. I am grateful to the advocates and activists from Girls for Gender Justice and other groups who have fought for these changes and to my colleague Assembly Member Reyes for partnering with me on this important legislation. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill.”

Assembly member Karines Reyes said, “Unfortunately, many of our state’s laws are still riddled with implicit bias against the very people that we are trying to help or protect. In education law, the term incorrigible is used to incorrectly label individuals as incapable of being corrected. No person should be described that way, but especially not our young girls of color and LGBTQ youth who are frequently regarded as irredeemable.”

Legislation (S.6529/A.9391) prohibits discrimination, intimidation, and retaliation against proprietary school students who file a complaint or exercise their right of private action against such schools. State law currently provides students with the right to file a written complaint against licensed private career school conduct with the State Education Department, as well as providing for a private right of action outside the Education Department’s complaint procedure. However, the law does not provide any protections against retaliation for students in proprietary or for-profit colleges. By signing this bill, Governor Hochul has now expanded protections to students in these schools. Students will no longer have to be intimidated or threatened by unscrupulous school administrators or leadership for exercising their legal rights.

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “It is important that lawmakers protect the rights of all students, not just in our state’s public and independent colleges and universities, but also in our proprietary schools. This bill protects the ability of students in proprietary colleges to file a complaint with the State Education Department or bring a private right of action if they feel their rights may have been violated. I want to thank Governor Hochul for continuing to make the students of New York a priority.”

Assembly member Deborah Glick said, “Students have had a right to file a written complaint regarding the conduct of their school with the NYS Department of Education, yet, cases of students experiencing intimidation or retaliation do exist, and Bill A.9391 will strengthen protections for students and help eliminate such Conduct by unscrupulous actors. All students deserve to have their rights protected, free from retaliatory harassment, and I am pleased to see this bill signed into law.”

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