The significant reduction in funding means Wisconsin residents will lose access to the Office of School Safety’s 24/7 anonymous tip line.
Madison, Wisconsin – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul says his state’s Office of School Safety will need to make serious cuts to its services after the legislature refused to provide additional funding to replace federal money that will run out in December.
The office was created by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2018 with overwhelming bipartisan support after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members, reports WPR. However, last week the Republican-led Joint Committee on Finance denied Kaul’s request for $2.2 million and 16 fulltime positions for the department, reports NBC15.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Department of Justice received $1.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, and Kaul allocated that money to the Office of School Safety. However, Joint Committee on Finance Co-chair Rep. Mark Born said, “The committee cannot backfill the expansion of government that occurred in nearly every agency due to one-time federal money, and this Office is no different,” in a statement on Friday.
Democratic Governor Tony Evers had requested a smaller amount — nearly $1 million — for the office, but that request was also denied by the committee.
The lack of funding means Wisconsin residents will lose access to the Office of School Safety’s 24/7 anonymous tip line, reports the Cap Times. Between September 1 and December 1 of last year, the Speak Up, Speak Out tip line received more than 1,000 tips. Anonymous tip lines are a leading school safety and security practice that can help to identify concerning student behavior, such as suicide ideation and mass shooting threats, before those threats can be carried out.
Nine of the 16 full-time positions Kaul requested would have been assigned to operation of the tip line, reports the Milwaukee Journal.
Although the lack of funding won’t completely eliminate Wisconsin’ Office of School Safety, the number of positions in the office will be reduced to only four for the entire state… down from 16.
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