Committee of Finance rejects additional funding for Office of School Safety

The hotline for individuals to privately report suspicious activity received money from COVID funds
Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 7:09 PM CDT
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MADDISON, Wis. (WSAW) - On Thursday, the state’s Joint Committee of Finance rejected the Department of Justice’s request for $996,000 which puts the program ‘Speak Up Speak Out’ in jeopardy.

Attorney General Josh Kaul said the defunding of school safety is horrible and ‘Speak Up Speak Out’ has been very successful.

“It’s received thousands of contacts and it’s allowed for interventions to happen to help keep kids safe when there are concerns about a number of issues, including about concerns of potential targeted violence, concerns about self-harm, and other issues that have risen at school,” said Attorney General Kaul.

The Office of School Safety works closely with kids and teachers. Kaul said if this happens, schools are going to be in a panic to find other ways of issuing school safety.

“Our schools in Wisconsin will become less safe. I don’t think that’s what Wisconsinites want to see, so I am going to keep talking about this issue and encouraging the legislature to take action to save this office,” said Kaul.

School safety can mean several different things, including mental health.

Kaul added, “Having my school counselors and resources through our schools through social workers and other programs is an important step. Having some commonsense gun safety measures is important, but this Office of School Safety that works to provide guidance for schools and promote healthy school climates is an important piece of that puzzle.”

With less money toward the program, schools that need the money will have to apply for grants, creating even more competition for schools.

“Instead of having uniform best practice guidance where administrators and teachers can look to a trusted source for guidance on best practices each school will need to be solving that problem on their own,” said Kaul.

So if ‘Speak Up Speak Speak Out’ goes away, Kaul said schools will have to start over or go back to the way things were before, leaving kids without a resource.

He expects to continue to have conversations with legislators and he encourages people to contact their local legislators and voice their concerns.