Senate passes stripped-down school safety package

Late last night the state Senate, on a bipartisan 28-4 vote, approved a stripped-down version of Gov. Scott Walker’s school safety package.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) indicated he had reached last-minute agreements with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) on school safety and other issues and  Assembly GOP lawmakers are scheduled to discuss those matters today.

It is expected that the Assembly will take up the Senate school safety package Thursday (March 22).  Passing the Senate version is likely the only way to get something to the governor as Sen. Fitzgerald stated the Senate will not return to the floor to take up any amendments.

The Senate plan leaves in place:

  • Establishing the Office of School Safety under the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Creating an $100 million School Safety Grant Program under the Office of School Safety
  • Requiring Mandatory Reporting of threats of school violence by pupils or other persons
  • Various school safety plan requirements

The Senate changes include:

  • Removed language requiring grant monies be allowed to be used to fund school resource officer salaries who are current or former law enforcement officers on a three-year payment plan
  • Removed language requiring DPI’s model bullying policy include parental notification within 48 hours
  • Removed language that would have amended the pupil records law to provide clarity to school districts by creating an exception in student privacy laws to allow law enforcement access to school surveillance footage if it “serves a legitimate safety interest”

As under the governor’s original proposal, the DOJ must develop a plan for awarding the grants in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  That plan will include a description of what types of expenditures will be eligible to be funded by the grants. 

Read More: Wisconsin State Journal; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel