A state legislator from the Iron Range said today he is worried a decision to remove boys from a juvenile correctional facility there could force it to close.
Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said the state Human Services commissioner and officials from four counties — Hennepin, Ramsey, Beltrami and Clay — are overreacting by taking boys out of Mesabi Academy.
Those officials announced in the past week that they're pulling more than 50 children from the 123-bed facility. They took the actions after stories by APM Reports focused on how Mesabi Academy handles sex abuse allegations and the level of treatment at the facility.
Tomassoni was a chief backer of Mesabi Academy at its inception in 1998. He represents Buhl, where the facility is located.
"I'm not sure the level of complaints rises to the level that we should be taking everybody out of there," he said. "They can't continue to operate if they don't have people that are paying the bill. And there are 135 jobs there, which is also a concern when we've been going through what we've going through on the Iron Range."
A spokesman for Mesabi Academy said today it has made no adjustments to its staff levels. He said the company believes it is providing a "safe and appropriate environment."