Reporting John Lauritsen
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Some Minnesota Catholic schools are now urging parents not to support an anti-bullying bill at the State Capitol, concerned over the bill’s apparent lack of input from private schools.
Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minn., is one of those schools.
The school recently sent out an email to parents and alumni, detailing what they believe is wrong with the bill.
“All children ought to be able to go to school in the morning and be assured they’re going to be safe,” said Pete Noll of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.
Noll’s group is working with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to encourage schools such as Totino-Grace to not support the current “anti-bullying” bill that’s being considered by legislators.
It was introduced by Democratic lawmakers Scott Dibble and Jim Davnie.
“We don’t even know what the cost is of this,” Noll said. “Minnesotans ought to be asking those questions — how much will this cost? That’s what we want to know.”
Noll said he’s disappointed that the Governor’s Task Force that helped design the bill didn’t ask for input from private schools. He also said the definition for “bullying” in the bill is too vague.
The Catholic Conference also believes that while the bill protects gay students, it doesn’t do enough to help others.
“It doesn’t protect all children,” Noll said. “It protects some children, but not all children.”
But OutFront Minnesota disagrees.
“We know that Minnesota has one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the nation,” Nicque Mabrey said.
Mabrey is the associate director of policy for OutFront. She believes the bill’s definition of bullying is very clear. And as far as cost goes, she says it will be more expensive if the state does nothing.
“Some districts have good policies, some districts really need help,” Mabrey said. “We believe these definitions and training and tools to support school climate is necessary.”
The Catholic Conference agrees that change is needed, but they support two other bills at the Capitol. One of them is based on North Dakota’s anti-bullying legislation.
It allows individual schools to modify the state’s anti-bullying police to best fit their needs. They say the current bill isn’t good for Minnesota’s 200 Catholic schools.