WI Attorney General asks state to fund future of DOJ’s School Safety Office

The attorney general was joined in the effort by the father of a student killed in the Parkland school shooting
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:07 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking the state to step up when it comes to funding for school safety.

Federal funding is running out soon for the state’s Department of Justice Office of School Safety so AG Kaul is asking the state legislature to make a long-term investment.

“This office is doing a lot of important work to keep our schools safe so that’s the good news,” said Kaul.

The bad news is the federal funds, including covid-relief dollars, used to operate The Office of School Safety since 2018, is running out.

“We anticipate around the end of this year,” said Kaul.

Kaul is asking the state legislature to help with the anticipated shortfall by investing in the long-term future of OSS. It is responsible for school safety training, critical response team training, monitoring the statewide tip line called ‘Speak up, Speak out’ and making sure school districts are adhering to the current state laws around school security.

“We need to make sure that we are doing what we can to keep our kids as safe as they can be making sure that successful programs like those offered by our Office of School Safety, remain in place, and continue to evolve. That’s going to help keep our kids in Wisconsin safe,” said Kaul.

Max Schachter’s son Alex died in the Parkland High School shooting 5 years ago. He said priorities need to change when it comes to school safety.

“In Parkland, we get it now. After our tragedy, we understand that the most important thing is not whether or not your son or daughter gets an A or B on the test is to make sure that they make it home every day, to their family that their staff make it home every day to their loved ones,” said Schachter.

Schachter travels the country promoting school safety initiatives. He said one of the things he sees the most in complacency.

“Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. And this is reality. It’s not what you like or what you don’t like. I can’t stand to have any more families go through the pain of sending their child to school and then never coming home again,” said Schachter. “I’m here to encourage all the Wisconsin legislators to not only fully fund but increase the funding to the Office of School Safety.”

Governor Tony Evers recent budget proposal includes more than $980,000 for the OSS over the next two years. Kaul said the office needs $2.2 million.

“What we would like to see at the end of this process is funding for 16 full time positions in our Office of School Safety and that’s what our budget request would result in if it were fully funded,” said Kaul.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee will go over the governor’s entire spending proposal over the next few months.