Hearing on Tuesday March 20 could be only opportunity for public comment on safety packages.
This could be the public’s ONLY opportunity to testify on the school safety packages that have been proposed, as the Senate also goes to floor tomorrow and we are hearing they will introduce their own safety package in that floor session (this means they will not be subject to public hearing, but will be proposed as amendment to other bills).
Please take time to contact both the members of the Assembly Education Committee and your own Representatives and Senators to share your concerns asap. If you can be there to testify in person, please do so. If you can make it to the hearing after the school day, do so – the hearing is likely to go until at least 5 or 6 pm and since the Senate is in session, it could go much later.
As you communicate with lawmakers, you might share some of the concerns we are hearing across the education community and from parents statewide:
- Sustainable and predictable funding is desperately needed to address school safety concerns. A one time pot of aid is insufficient and inadequate to meet the needs of all students and schools. We need lasting, long-term solutions, not band-aids.
- Flexibility is essential. Districts should be able to put tax dollars where they are needed most to meet their most pressing needs. New ways of dictating who gets how much and what it’s spent on does not help schools meets these needs.
- Any one-time funding proposals should be simple and clear. Establishing a new office in the Dept. of Justice and new hoops for districts to jump through to compete for aid is a “solution” that creates new problems. Any one-time aids are better distributed through DPI as categorical aids.
- Any solution should include funding for mental health services. $100 million is a substantial amount that could go much further than the $6 million for mental health services the previous budget provided.
- Safety issues and gun violence are not just school issues – they are community issues. School safety solutions that only focus on hardening our buildings will not address the root causes or prevent future incidents of violence.
- The Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association has recommended universal background checks, mental health background checks for those under age 21 who wish to buy a gun, the creation of a Lethal Violence Protection Order (LVPO), and restoring the 48 hour waiting period for gun purchases.
The six bills the Assembly Education Committee will take up tomorrow are:
- Special Session Assembly Bill 1–-creating a grant program to schools for school safety and safety-related upgrades to school buildings, equipment, and facilities. (LRB 5595/1)
- Special Session Assembly Bill 2—creating an Office of School Safety in the Department of Justice (LRB 5599/1)
- Special Session Assembly Bill 3—requiring professionals who must report suspected child abuse and neglect under current law to also report to a law enforcement agency a reasonable suspicion that a person intends to commit an act of violence involving a dangerous weapon or explosive in or targeting a school (LRB 5601/1)
- Special Session Assembly Bill 4—requiring DPI to revise its model bullying policy (LRB 5683/1)
- Special Session Assembly Bill 5—changes to requirements for school safety plans (LRB 5684/1)
- Special Session Assembly Bill 6— allowing a school board to share safety camera footage with a law enforcement agency (clarifying the pupil records law) (LRB 5690/1)