Tiberi-Kind school safety bill would incentivize law enforcement to substitute teach

The recent violent events at schools across the country have sent lawmakers into a legislative tizzy to find solutions that address school safety.

Many of the bills are packed with partisan measures, ensuring their own demise, but a unique approach by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) may secure enough bipartisan support to pass.

Tiberi, a father of four, designed a bill that would amend the Internal Revenue Code so that off-duty law enforcement officials would not have to pay federal income taxes on the compensation they receive from substitute teaching.

“This bill is one way for schools to keep students safe while maintaining flexibility for local school districts to make the best decisions for their communities,” Tiberi said. “The bill encourages highly-trained, off-duty law enforcement officers to serve as substitute teachers, within state requirements, offering a cost-effective deterrent as another layer of security.”

Tiberi said the idea was brought to him by a Central Ohio law enforcement officer and is similar to a concept that Federal Air Marshals use.

“No one knows which flights they will be on, no one knows if the person sitting next to them is an Air Marshal, but the possibility of their presence may deter violent criminals and offers a line of defense for those in flight,” Tiberi said.

The Better Protecting Children in Schools Act of 2013 is cosponsored by Kind and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio).

“The tax incentive for off-duty law enforcement officers to become substitute teachers is a commonsense way to do just that,” Kind said. “Further, students and parents alike can rest just a little bit easier knowing they have an extra layer of protection when someone as highly-trained as a law enforcement officer is present in a classroom.”

States across the country, including Ohio, are reporting a shortage of substitute teachers. Tiberi said the proposed bill would provide incentives for off-duty officials to substitute teach.