Wisconsin Assembly votes to mandate high-risk police

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Schools experiencing high crime rates would have to hire police officers and station them in their buildings under a Republican-drafted bill passed by the state assembly on Tuesday.

Under the bill, if a school has more than 100 incidents in a semester, and at least 25 of them result in an arrest, the school must hire an armed school resource officer to work at the school.

The cost of hiring the officer would be partially reimbursed by the state using federal COVID-19 relief money. The state education ministry said it was unable to calculate how many schools are eligible.

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WISCONSIN ASSEMBLY TO VOTE ON REPUBLICAN MEASURES TO REQUIRE SCHOOLS WITH CRIME TO HIRE POLICE

The move comes after the state’s two largest districts, Milwaukee and Madison, voted in 2020 to remove school aid officers.

The only recorded supporter of the measure was the Milwaukee Police Association. Opponents included Milwaukee Public Schools, Disability Rights Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin School Social Workers Association. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards also expressed concern.

Democrats criticized the bill as a Republican attack on schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

Rep. Milwaukee’s LaKeisha Myers said her school board should be able to set its own rules and accused Republicans of “cloaking themselves in fear.” Rep. Madison’s Francesca Hong said increasing violence in schools is a result of Republicans choosing to underfund public education.

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The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill mandating police presence in all schools with high crime rates.

Republicans called the bill a sensible first step toward reducing violence in schools.

“It is clear that the status quo cannot continue,” said Rep. Nik Rettinger, the bill’s lead sponsor. “I’m afraid if we stay on the current path, more students and teachers will be attacked.”

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The General Assembly eventually passed the bill by a vote of 59 to 36.

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The chamber passed another bill on Tuesday that would require schools to collect and report information about crimes committed on school grounds. The GOP-controlled legislature passed that measure last session, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed it.

Democrats complained that the bill does nothing to stop violence in schools in the future. Republicans countered that parents deserve to know if their children’s schools are failing.

“I’m not going to solve every problem with this. This is not a school safety law. This is a school transparency law,” said Representative Cindi Duchow, the bill’s lead sponsor.

The Assembly passed the bill 61-35.

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Both bills will pass the Senate. Approval in that room would forward the measures to Evers. Britt Cudaback, the governor’s spokesperson, did not immediately respond to an email asking for comment on the bill’s outlook.

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