After years of discussion, the Court of Appeals on June 12 decided New York’s public school students cannot seek redress under the New York Human Rights Law (HRL) for school-based discrimination and harassment (NYLJ, June 13). The four-vote majority interpreted § 296(4) of the Executive Law—after reviewing the convoluted layering and sequencing of provisions in the General Construction Law, Human Rights Law, tax and education laws—to mean that a public school district is not an “education corporation or association” prohibited from discriminating against or permitting harassment of students. The three-vote dissent read the intersecting provisions differently, and concluded, “It is antithetical to the purpose of the [HRL] to exempt public schools from its mandate…. The clear and expressed intent of the [HRL] is to protect ‘every individual’ in the State from the evils of discrimination.”
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