School Safety Advocates, Victim Families Urge Wisconsin Lawmakers to Fund Office of School Safety

Advocates and school shooting victim families are calling on Wisconsin legislators to restore the Office of School Safety funding, which includes money for the anonymous tip line.

School Safety Advocates, Victim Families Urge Wisconsin Lawmakers to Fund Office of School Safety

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UPDATE JUNE 27, 2023: School safety advocates from across the nation — some of whom have had their own children die in school shootings – are putting pressure on Wisconsin lawmakers to reverse a committee’s refusal to adequately fund the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS). The cuts that are being proposed mean Wisconsin residents will lose access to OSS’ 24/7 anonymous tip line.

The advocates urging the reversal include Max Schachter, whose son was killed by an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018; Michele Gay, whose daughter was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; Susan Payne, founder and former executive director of Colorado’s Safe2Tell initiative; and John-Michael Keyes, whose daughter was killed in 2006 by a gunman at her high school, according to a press release from WisPolitics.

“It’s sad that after 17 people were murdered in the Parkland school shooting, including my sweet little boy Alex, there are still legislatures, like in Wisconsin, that think it won’t happen in their state,” said Schachter. “Thankfully a school shooting the scale of Parkland hasn’t happened YET; due in large part to the good work of the Wisconsin Office of School Safety. The Wisconsin legislature’s decision not to fund the ongoing training and Speak Up, Speak Out program I believe will lead to disastrous consequences.”


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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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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