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AG Schimel awards more than $4 million in school safety grant funding

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. — Attorney General Brad Schimel recently announced the launch of the DOJ Office of School Safety (OSS) Technology Advisory Committee, on national "If You See Something, Say Something" Awareness Day. Schimel also announced 55 schools and school districts will receive $4,469,377 from the second round of the Wisconsin Department of Justice School Safety Grant program, which focuses on advanced initiatives to bolster student mental health.

"With that said, based on preliminary information, we received $198,763 and these funds will be utilized to further cover safety costs which include additional security cover/blinds, additional interior/exterior cameras, emergency portable handheld radios for increased communication, wall-mounted bleed control stations, and additional mobile first aid bags for building offices," said New Richmond School District Administrator Patrick Olson.

The OSS Technology Advisory Committee will develop and assist DOJ in deploying a confidential reporting application. In August 2018, the OSS applied for a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help fund the development of the tip line application. The committee has 20 members, including law enforcement, private and public school educators, DOJ staff, CESA representatives, private sector technology specialists and mental health advocates. The committee will meet in November, and then quarterly thereafter.

"We need to make sure that we are using all of the tools available to us, when someone sees something suspicious or threatening to our schools," said Schimel. "I'm excited that so many educators and law enforcement have stepped up to help our technology committee develop a tip line application that will keep our schools safe and will be good for all Wisconsin students."

If you have information that a person may commit a school shooting, or any crime, contact your local enforcement agency. If it is in an emergency, call 911.

The second round of grant funding, utilizing approximately $48 million, will build upon the baseline mental health and physical security improvements made in the first round of grant funding by offering advanced training for teachers on mental health issues. Funds are also available to create local teams of educators, counselors, and law enforcement (called school safety intervention teams, or "SSIT") that will assess threats and identify students in need of support. Additional physical security upgrades will also be funded. DOJ will announce plans for an estimated $3 million set aside fund in the future, which represents the balance of the $100 million appropriation.

To qualify for the second-round funds, applicants must agree to send 10 percent of full-time teachers and counselors to a DOJ-approved, 12-hour Adolescent Mental Health training by Aug. 31, 2020, and schools may use grant funds to pay expenses incurred (tuition, travel, lodging, meals, substitute teacher pay, etc.) Schools applying must also establish an SSIT based on a model set by the U.S. Secret Service, which will engage in behavior monitoring, threat assessments, and intervention.

Under this second round, grant funding is awarded on a per-student basis, according to student enrollment as reported to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Each school or school district that applies will receive an estimated $55.21 per child, but no awardee will receive less than $10,000 nor receive more than $2.5 million, in order to ensure all applicants receive sufficient funding to make meaningful physical security improvements.

In March 2018, the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker passed and signed 2017 Wisconsin 143 into law, establishing the OSS and providing $100 million for school safety; 723 schools and school districts, 97 percent of public schools and approximately 40 percent of private schools statewide, applied for the first round of funds, and all schools that completed the application process have now received an award.

For more information on DOJ's Office of School Safety, please visit doj.state.wi.us/office-school-safety/office-school-safety.

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