EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Lawmakers held a public hearing Thursday to discuss a bill aimed at relaxing criminal record confidentiality for juveniles to protect teachers.
Sponsors of the bill say school safety is not just for students but for teachers as well. The proposed bill would give teachers the power to step over disciplinary policies and behavioral intervention plans put in place by the school.
Criminal records for Wisconsin juveniles are currently sealed automatically. This bill would change that, requiring police to notify the school when they arrest a student for a felony or violent crime before the next school day begins. Teachers could then ask the school board to suspend the student if administrators won't.
The proposal lacks support and some say there’s no need for it. "We have protocols in place already for students and we're also very collaborative with the Eau Claire Police Department," said Chris Hambuch-Boyle, School Board President for the Eau Claire Area School District.
Hambuch-Boyle says this move only takes away local power from school districts. “This is another instance of legislation stepping in and overstepping what we already have in place."
Despite opposition, sponsor of the bill is working to push it through. “The Teacher Protection Act aims to implement a number of positive steps including: Builds school relationships with law enforcement, allows more classroom control, provides loss of leave benefits if assaulted or injured, assures access for up-to-date student records, and updates teachers annually of their current and expanded rights,” said Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R – Fond du Lac), author of the bill.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards opposes the bill. Hambuch-Boyle says while the ECASD Board has not discussed the bill in detail, it undermines policies the district already has in place.
“I would hope that our legislators know that we take it very seriously to keep our teachers safe and to keep our children safe and a true connection to families in our community around confidentiality. We’re well versed in that. We write our own policy that dictates this,” she says.
It is unknown at this time when the Assembly Judiciary Committee will make a decision.