Assembly passes school safety package; heads to Gov. Walker

The state Assembly passed the school safety package yesterday evening (March 22) that had already been approved by the state Senate, clearing the way for the bill to head to the governor and be signed into law.  The legislation passed with strong bipartisan support on a 78-8 vote and sources indicate the governor plans to sign the bill into law early next week.

Included in the legislation approved by both houses of the legislature are provisions:

  • 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 Assembly also approved additional bills related to school safety that were proposed by the governor as part of the special session package but not approved by the Senate.  Before passing these bills the Assembly also amended them as described below.  The fate of these bills in the Senate is uncertain:

  • A bill requiring DPI’s model bullying policy include parental notification within 48 hours was amended to include language: preventing criminals from profiting from the infamy they gain after a high profile crime; setting up a 24-hour per day statewide school safety hotline at the DOJ; and strengthening background checks on long gun purchases.
  • A bill that clarifies the pupil records law for 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” was also amended to include language preventing criminals from profiting from the infamy they gain after a high profile crime and setting up a statewide school safety hotline at the DOJ.

Read More: Wisconsin State Journal; Wisconsin Public Radio; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel