WisDOJ: Awarded $2.2 million for its work supporting mental health and school safety; AG Schimel announces $21.3 million in additional local School Safety Grant funding

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel today announced that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) was awarded $2,200,000 by the United States Department of Justice to support school safety efforts in Wisconsin for mental health training, technology reporting, and violence threat assessments. Attorney General Schimel also announced 263 schools and school districts will receive $21,281,933 from the second round of the DOJ School Safety Grant program, which focuses on advanced initiatives to bolster student mental health.

“I am so proud that our school safety work is being nationally recognized through this competitive grant process,” said Attorney General Schimel. “With the addition of these federal dollars, we gain yet another tool to help our students, teachers, staff, and law enforcement prevent violent acts before they occur and improve the safety of our schools.”

The first federal award by the USDOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) provides $1 million to supplement state funding to increase the number of schools that will be provided evidence-based trainings adolescent mental health.

The second grant provides Wisconsin DOJ with $1 million to supplement state funding to increase the number of schools that will be provided training on school violence threat assessment teams, standard response protocols, school safety intervention teams, and standard reunification methods. The grant will also assist in the development, training, and data analysis of standardized violence risk assessment tools. This grant will also support developing reunification software that will help reunite children with guardians after an incident, and assist schools in submitting the schools safety plans, interactive floor plans, and scheduling safety drills. Last, this grant and a second grant from BJA in the amount of  $200,000 will be used to create an anonymous tip line application.

Attorney General Schimel also announced that second-round safety grants continue to be awarded. A list of schools and school districts receiving awards through October 3, 2018, is set forth below.

As of September 28, 2018 all grants have been reviewed by OSS staff, and all schools with grants requiring modifications have been contacted about needed modifications. More grants will be awarded to schools that applied for the second round of grant funding in the near future, as soon as schools respond with modifications. OSS grant specialists are working quickly to help schools and school districts correct any deficient applications, and award the grants as soon as possible. OSS anticipates that it will complete all awards in October, subject to applicants providing additional information or correcting errors in their grant application materials. Once a grant application is reviewed and complete, it will be awarded immediately.

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 August 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 (DPI). 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 Governor Scott Walker passed and signed 2017 Wisconsin 143into law, establishing the OSS and providing $100 million for school safety. 723 schools and school districts, 97% of public schools and approximately 40% 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: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/office-school-safety/office-school-safety.

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