Kaul, parent of Parkland school shooting victim campaign for school safety funding in state budget
The Office of School Safety at the Wisconsin Department of Justice is campaigning to receive $2.2 million in the state’s two-year budget. Gov. Tony Evers released the executive budget last month. The republican-led legislature is considering $988,000 for the Office of School Safety.
The office was created in 2018 following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Yesterday, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul was joined by Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son, Alex, died in the Parkland tragedy. Schachter says you can’t make schools safe if you’re operating on a shoestring budget.
"In Florida, we're not complacent anymore," says Schachter. "We know that it is not a matter of if there's going to be another attack on the school, it's just a matter of when and where."
If given the requested funding, the Office of School Safety would hire 16 full-time positions. Schachter says people can learn from the horrible failures and mistakes that happened in Parkland to prevent anything like it from happening in Wisconsin. He says in Parkland, they now prioritize safety and security at schools, an initiative that Florida has spent over $200 million a year on.
"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, it's 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."
Since its inception, the Wisconsin Office of School Safety has distributed $100 million in federal grants to schools and has helped train teachers on how to handle bullying. Speak Up, Speak Out is the office’s 24-hour staffed tip line for teachers and students. The line received over 1,000 tips in a three-month period last year, according to the state Department of Justice.
Attorney General Kaul shares more of the office’s duties:
"We've trained regional critical incident response teams around the state," says Kaul. "We have a school safety handbook that provides best practice guidance and we have provided guidance for schools on how to identify and respond to threats of targeted violence. This office is doing a lot of important work to keep our schools safe."
Kaul says 2023 is a critical year for the office because he expects the federal grant money that’s funding operations to run out this year.