The Assembly today approved a pair of bills that would require schools to collect crime data and to hire resource officers if they report too many incidents resulting in arrests.

Lawmakers voted 61-35 along party lines to approve AB 53, which would require schools to gather data detailing how many disorderly conduct offenses and violent crime incidents occur on school property or buses between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. during weekdays. The schools would only have to gather data if the incidents are reported to police and charges or tickets are issued. The bill would also require schools to report the data to the Department of Public Instruction.

DPI staff estimate programming a system to collect data from schools and add it to annual school report cards would take about 800 extra staff hours, according to a DPI cost estimate.

GOP Rep. William Penterman said the bill will focus on more serious crimes, such as homicide, sexual assault, burglary and battery.

“This bill, Mr. Speaker, is for the parents who don’t know what is going on in their schools.
It’s about transparency,” the Columbus Republican said.

Rep. Deb Andraca said the bill won’t ensure safe schools.

“This is a bill that schools don’t want, law enforcement does not need and that parents will not benefit from,” the Whitefish Bay Dem said. “We are looking backwards in time to see what already has happened. What we should be looking at is ways to keep our schools safe in the first place, and that is not what this bill does.

The Assembly also approved 59-36 AB 69, which would require schools to hire a school resource officer if 100 or more disorderly conduct or violent crime incidents occur on school grounds. Of those, at least 25 would have to result in arrest to trigger the required hire. The bill also calls for Gov. Tony Evers to use federal COVID-19 funds to reimburse much of the incurred costs over the next three school years.

Freshman Rep. Scott Johnson, R-Jefferson, was the only Republican to vote against the bill.

Rep. Cindi Duchow, R-Town of Delafield, who authored AB 53, did not vote on the measure.

The Assembly also approved an amendment that changes the bill’s language to accommodate schools with trimesters and traditional semesters. The amendment also removes a provision that would have reimbursed 25 percent of school resource officer hiring costs in school year 2025-26 because federal rules require American Rescue Plan Act funds to be obligated before Dec. 31, 2024.

Still, the Department of Administration in a cost estimate noted only part of the 2024-25 school year qualifies under federal rules for the 50 percent reimbursement in the bill. The agency also said all ARPA funds are already allocated.

Author Rep. Nick Rettinger, R-Mukwonago, argued schools are seeing growing amounts of violence, such as recent instances in Wauwatosa where school staffers were assaulted.

“I’m worried that should we stay on the current path, more kids and faculty will be attacked or subject to other jarring incidents by other students, or – as we’ve seen way too much of very recently – other adults such as parents,” he said.

The measure is the first bill Rettinger has proposed.

Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, argued Milwaukee is already paying people to break up fights, confiscate any weapons and build a rapport with students. She added the measure is just another attempt for others to govern a city they don’t live in, and it won’t solve the root causes of violence in school.

“Those of you who know me know enough. I don’t always go with my side 100 percent of the time,” she said. “I look at it from a real perspective. This is about MPS and MMSD not having SROs in their schools. If that works in your community, hooray. It doesn’t work for mine. Respect the decision.”

The measures now head to the Senate for consideration.

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