Nonpublic School Students Act”

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Nonpublic School Students Act”

May 21, 2024

Memorandum of Opposition

 

Re: A1829-A Jean-Pierre
Creates the “Nonpublic School Students Act” 

The above referenced legislation, while eliminating the costly and unnecessary data collection and reporting requirements set forth in the bill’s original version, would nonetheless force the state’s nonpublic schools to either cease operating or violate their own missions, policies, and/or tenets. The New York State Catholic Conference remains opposed to this bill. 

The state’s religious and independent schools pride themselves on more than two centuries of successfully preparing millions of children to be loving, respectful adults and productive citizens. Our schools respect and promote the infinite dignity of every student. Moreover, our schools already maintain zero tolerance for bullying behaviors . . . for any reason. 

When enacting the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA, Chapter 482 of the Laws of 2010), lawmakers recognized that its application must be limited to government-created and government-run schools. In respecting the well-established independence and religious nature of the state’s private schools, lawmakers went so far as to explicitly exclude such schools from the application of the law by setting forth in Section 17 of the act: “Nothing in this article shall: 1. Apply to private, religious or denominational educational institutions . . .” Lawmakers at the time and in the intervening years since, have consistently recognized that by imposing provisions on religious schools that violate religious tenets, they would be forcing such schools to cease operating, thereby denying thousands of parents the right to elect a religious education for their children. 

While we appreciate the sponsors’ efforts to address some of the concerns of nonpublic school leaders, the measure remains unacceptable as it would, at a minimum, permit students to claim discrimination should a school not accommodate their chosen name, pronouns, dress, or use of facilities, and the like. 

We encourage the sponsors to continue to work with the religious and independent school leadership to craft a measure to help address bullying while respecting the religious practices of millions of New Yorkers – an outcome we believe possible. In the meantime, the New York State Catholic Conference remains opposed and urges the bill to be held.