Governor Walker called a special session on school safety and introduced a package of six bills. There is disagreement between the Assembly and Senate about how to approach the issue—the Senate says they will take the bills up in regular session as amendments to already-introduced legislation. The Assembly will meet for one-day in a special session. This creates a complicated situation because bills need to be passed in identical form in order to become law.
The Assembly Education Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday, March 20 on the special session version of the bills.
School Safety Grants: Special Session Bill 1 provides $100 million in funding to the Department of Justice for the purpose of issuing school safety grants in collaboration with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Public, private and charter schools could apply for grants to fund safety-related school upgrades, hiring armed security officers, and training school staff.
Office of School Safety: Special Session Bill 2 creates an office of school safety within the Department of Justice. The office of school safety would be required to work with DPI to develop model practices for school safety; compile blueprints and GIS maps for all schools; offer trainings to school staff on school safety. The bill requires school boards to provide blueprints of each school building and facility in the school district to local law enforcement and the office of school safety.
Mandatory Reporting: Special Session Bill 3 requires 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. It requires school boards to provide training to school staff on this new reporting requirement.
Model Policy on Bullying: Special Session Bill 4 requires DPI to revise its model policy on bullying to specify that the parent or guardian of a student involved in a bullying incident be notified within 48 hours of the incident being reported.
School Safety Plans: Special Session Bill 5 updates current state law regarding school safety plans. The bill requires schools to review and approve their safety plans every three years. School safety plans must be submitted to the Department of Justice. Any school that wants to update their safety plan to first work with local law enforcement to conduct an on-site assessment of all buildings and facilities. The bill requires the safety plan to include an individualized plan for each school building and policies and procedures related to specific events like school violence and attacks, threats of school violence and attacks, parent-student reunification, weather-related emergencies, fire, intruders, and threats to non-classroom events. Schools would be required by the bill to hold annual drills in every building that is regularly occupied by students.
Safety Cam Footage: Special Session Bill 6 allows schools to share safety cam footage with local law enforcement if they determine that sharing the footage with the law enforcement agency serves a legitimate safety interest.