Via E-Mail Delivery
April 14, 2023
Governor Tim Walz Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan
130 State Capitol 130 State Capitol
Saint Paul, MN 55155 Saint Paul, MN 55155
RE: School Safety in Nonpublic Schools
Dear Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan:
We are writing on behalf of our respective organizations regarding the urgent and critical need in Minnesota to make sure our schools are secure and safe considering the most recent, and continuing attacks, on our schools in this country and in our state.
There are approximately 72,000 students enrolled in Independent, Catholic, Jewish, Christian and Muslim nonpublic schools in our state. The latest school shooting at a nonpublic Christian school in Tennessee sadly confirms what we already know – our schools are under attack. In Minnesota, nonpublic schools, particularly our Jewish and Muslim schools, have experienced increased levels of threats, all of which we must take very seriously.
The tragedy from last week at Covenant School must never happen in Minnesota or in our country again. We need to ensure that all of schools have the resources to respond to and prevent these attacks from happening to our schools.
We also share our concerns about cybersecurity attacks on our schools and the latest nefarious actions against the Minneapolis and Rochester Public Schools reinforces that all our schools are vulnerable if not adequately secure and prepared for these events.
We are asking for your assistance in making sure the Minnesota Legislature enacts your budget recommendation of $50 million to establish the Building and Cyber Security Grant Program and include all schools as eligible for funding, whether they are public, charters or nonpublic schools. The exclusion of one sector of schools – as you know, nonpublic schools serve many students and families in need of services and resources – is a discriminatory act against our students.
Since 2020, nonpublic schools have been advocating to be part of the Safe Schools Program that provides funding to school districts for emergency response training, security upgrades, mental health services, and security resources. The legislation supported by our collective organizations provides state aid to school districts, intermediate school districts, charter schools and nonpublic schools for this program. Unfortunately, this program currently does not cover nonpublic schools, charter schools and intermediate school districts and it is a levy-only program for school districts.
An attack on any school, whether it is a public, nonpublic, charter or another school site, cannot be tolerated or allowed to happen in Minnesota. We want to make sure Minnesota is doing everything it can to ensure that all our students are safe and secure. We ask you include $50 million in the final Education Finance bill and allow nonpublic schools to apply for funding.
Lastly, we respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss the proposal and our ongoing concerns regarding safety and security in our schools.
Tim Benz Jason Adkins
President Executive Director
MINNDEPENDENT Minnesota Catholic Conference