Print Page   |   Sign In
News & Press: Legislative Updates

Testimony calls for additional mental health funding in school safety package

Wednesday, March 21, 2018  
Share |

March 21, Wisconsin Health News

The Senate approved a school safety proposal Tuesday that did not include an increase in mental health funding despite calls from school districts, law enforcement and advocates. 

The proposal, which was approved by the Senate 28-4 Tuesday night, would create an Office of School Safety under the Department of Justice and provide $100 million in grants through the office. It would also require that the office incorporate trauma-informed care into its trainings. 

It also includes a proposal requiring medical and mental health professionals to notify law enforcement if they have reasonable suspicion a patient could use a weapon or explosive to target a school. 

A package of Assembly bills nearly mirroring the Senate proposal got a public hearing in the education committee Tuesday, where some of those testifying called for additional funding in mental health. State Superintendent Tony Evers introduced a plan in early March that would provide $25 million to increase mental health staff, co-locate mental health services in schools and increase training for school staff and community partners, which some advocates referenced in their testimony. 

“We really were hoping to encourage the proposal to be flexible and sustainable and have a comprehensive approach to supporting students,” Sally Flaschberger, a lead advocacy specialist at Disability Rights Wisconsin, told lawmakers. “We were hoping that funds would be shifted to provide that $25 million.” 

The Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association also called for additional funds to support mental health services