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New Wisconsin Assembly Bills Aim to Protect Wisconsin Schools from Gun Violence

Posted on in Weapons Law

gun violence, protect Wisconsin schools, Wisconsin Assembly Bills, weapons law, school shootingsBy: Kenneth Baker

The traumatic horrors of school shootings have become all too familiar in American education. Most recently, on Tuesday March 20, 2018, there was a high school student who entered a Maryland high school with a firearm and killed two innocent classmates. This also comes in the wake of the Parkland shooting in Florida that left 17 innocent students dead.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have spoken out for various forms of response to these shootings. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have led nationwide school walkouts in an attempt to change current gun laws to prevent assault weapons from getting into the hands of suspect individuals. The response has been wide spread and sustained. It finally seems as though something is going to be done to prevent mass shootings.

This past week, Governor Scott Walker signed an executive order to call a special session of the Wisconsin Assembly. This special session was aimed at reforming and creating new school safety measures. The first bill introduced (2017 WI A.B. 1 (NS)) creates a grant program for schools to use money to retrofit existing buildings with new technologies to tighten security. In a Facebook post, Representative Todd Novak (R - Dodgeville) , who introduced the Assembly Bill, claims that the bill will create a $100 million grant program to fund school safety initiatives, and will be used for things like security personnel or safety upgrades to our schools.

The second bill (2017 WI A.B. 2 (NS)) creates an office of school safety in the Department of Justice. The office of school safety must work with the Department of Public Instruction to create model practices for school safety, must compile blueprints and geographic information system (GIS) maps of schools for use by law enforcement agencies in an emergency, and must offer training to school staff on school safety.

The third bill (2017 WI A.B. 3 (NS)) 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. This bill holds unique ramifications for medical professionals that may be forced to divulge confidential information about their patients in order to comply with a safety statute.

The fourth bill (2017 WI A.B. 4 (NS)) requires that the parent or guardian of each student involved in a bullying incident be notified within 48 hours of the incident being reported to a school district employee. According to State Representative Todd Krug (R – Nekoosa), the bill “puts more emphasis on exposing bullying in schools. We will require parental notification of bullying within 48 hours. Victims and perpetrators as well. Parents can lead us out of the bullying epidemic.”

The fifth bill (2017 WI A.B. 5 (NS)) requires each public and private school board of each private school to ensure that pupils at each school building regularly occupied by pupils are drilled annually in the proper response to a school violence event. The bill requires the individual having charge of the school building at which a drill is held to submit a written evaluation of the drill to public and private school board and requires the school board or governing body of the private school to review the written evaluation.to ensure that individuals at each school building regularly occupied by students are drilled annually in the proper response to a school violence event. The bill requires the individual having charge of the school building at which a drill is held to submit a written evaluation of the drill to the public and private school board and requires the school board or governing body of the private school to review the written evaluation.

The sixth bill would allow a school board to share safety camera footage with law enforcement. Under current law, unless a specific exception applies, student records maintained in a public school are confidential. This bill creates a specific exception to the requirement that pupil records be kept confidential for safety camera footage that is made available to a law enforcement agency if sharing that footage serves a legitimate safety interest.

In conjunction, these bills are geared towards focusing in on troublesome students, and proactive measures to school shootings. Reactive policies are undeniably useful, but instituting a handful of proactive measures will ensure that Wisconsin students and parents can feel safe about the security of the schools.

Attorney Brad Schimmel testified before the Assembly Committee on Education on March 20, 2018 and voiced his approval of the six bills. His main point was that, “these bills will get districts more safe, less vulnerable, and less accessible to possible school shooters.” He also mentioned, “these bills make zero notion of arming teachers. It is not my decision to make, and this is not the time to make that decision. Our goal is to get every school who has needs, to get money to protect their students.”

On March 21, 2018 the Wisconsin Assembly passed all six bills and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

If you have any legal concerns, contact the law office of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & brown, LLP. Our team of experienced Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers can help with a wide variety of legal situations. For a full list of our practice areas, visit www.grgblaw.com or call 414-271-1440.

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