Election 2018: Kipnis Blasts Watson Coleman On School Violence Legislation Vote

Attorney Daryl Kipnis is running for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman. Photo: Kipnis campaign.

A potential Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman is attacking her for a recent vote on school safety legislation.

Daryl Kipnis, who is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Watson Coleman (D-12) in November, said in a release that Watson’s “no” vote on the “STOP School Violence Act of 2018” shows that she “failed” to “deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.”

The bill, HR-4909, is an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 that revises and reauthorizes the Secure Our Schools grant program through 2028.

Watson Coleman was one of 10 Representatives – five from each side of the aisle – who voted against the measure.

“It is truly disappointing of our district’s current representative to espouse her commitment to make schools safer in front of students in her district, and then return to Washington, D.C., and be one of only a few to vote against a bill that does just that,” Kipnis said in the release. “This is the height of hypocrisy while obstructing sensible, overwhelmingly bipartisan, action on that very issue.”

“The question I would ask, then, is ‘Where is your plan to make schools, especially in the 12th District of New Jersey, safer? Where is the Watson Coleman School Safety Bill?” Kipnis said in the release. “If she can’t be counted on to work with her fellow members of Congress by presenting her own policy initiatives for their consideration in the form of a bill or amendment on an issue as vital to our nation as school safety that requires immediate response, how can she be counted on to resolve any other issues important to New Jerseyans? As constituents, we deserve better than our Representative voting ‘no’ and offering no specific policy alternative.”

In a statement after the vote, Watson Coleman said the legislation “lacks a number of critical protections in its effort to fund programs and systems that would prevent school violence events.”

“While I support reauthorization of the Department of Justice’s Secure Our Schools grant program, the bill considered in the House had several critical flaws: it would not require protections for students falsely accused in grant-funded anonymous reporting systems; it risks creating risk assessment systems that disproportionately impact students with disabilities, students of color, and other minority groups; and may allow schools to purchase equipment like metal detectors that are unproven in preventing violent situations but do increase fear, anxiety and the perception of safety among students,” she said in the statement.

“Legislation with this magnitude of concern deserves to be considered in regular order with the opportunity for amendments that would mitigate unintended consequences, and allow proactive attempts to reverse the school to prison pipeline,” she said in the statement. “I truly believe that, if given the chance, Congress could have addressed these issues in a bipartisan fashion. Unfortunately we did not have that opportunity today. I look forward to supporting other measures that will more holistically and effectively address the pressing issues of school safety.”


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