Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra has moved forward with her school safety proposal by contracting with a security consultant who specializes in self-defense and concealed weapons training.
Ybarra’s State Department of Education entered into a contract on Aug. 30 with Forward Movement Training Center owner Matt Schneider. Under the contract, Schneider will make $70 per hour — capped at a maximum of $20,000 — to conduct outreach between the SDE, law enforcement officials and leaders of the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security.
The contract also calls for Schneider to provide information and cost estimates on statewide training in school safety and security.
The contract is valid through April 30.
“As a contractor, Schneider will connect with Idaho law enforcement organizations, gathering feedback that will lend insight and expertise to Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra’s proposed Keep Idaho Students Safe Initiative,” according to a written statement released by the SDE. “That feedback, along with input from other stakeholders, will help develop expectations and training for school security personnel.”
Ybarra’s staff said she was not available for an interview to discuss the contract or the next phases of her KISS proposal.
Ybarra’s office did not respond to a question from Idaho Education News seeking clarification on how Schneider’s role would be different than outreach efforts undertaken by the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security over the past two years — also performed at taxpayer expense. Since its formation in 2016, the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security has forged partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders and conducted personalized school safety assessments at about two-thirds of all Idaho school buildings.
Schneider’s contract was not awarded as a result of a competitive bidding process. The SDE said a competitive bidding process was not required and would not have been customary for a contract that size.
An SDE spokeswoman said “He came to the SDE’s attention through the reputation of his firm among law enforcement agencies.”
The contract signals that Ybarra is moving ahead with her KISS proposal, though the Legislature has not held a hearing on her KISS plan or acted on her $19 million supplemental funding request.
Schneider did not respond to messages left last week at his Meridian office.
According to a written statement supplied by the SDE and his online bio, Schneider is a former Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputy who served on the SWAT team and narcotics units. He owns Meridian-based Forward Movement Training Center, which the SDE described as offering “real-world tactical self-defense training.”
According to his website, Schneider’s facility offers a “fully outfitted” bank complete with teller lines and office furniture that is designed to simulate robberies and hostage situations. It also features a two-story training house with breakable windows, removable doors and “toys to trip over” during home invasion and hostage simulations.
The most expensive part of Ybarra’s KISS program is a one-time $18.5 million grant program to provide a trained security presence or other safety enhancements at every Idaho school.
The SDE said Schneider’s contract prevents him from leveraging his SDE contract to drum up business for his firearms and self-defense training center.
“The contract specifically states ‘at no time shall the contractor promote or market specific services or products.’ So, no, he cannot promote his company’s training while working under this contract,” SDE spokeswoman Kris Rodine said in an e-mailed statement.
Forward Movement’s website features a video, reminiscent of a professional movie trailer, showcasing firearms training at the center. The video has scenes depicting simulated shootings, hostage situations and home invasions as Schneider encourages the viewer to “BECOME THE LEADER.”
This summer, Ybarra stressed that she named her school safety program KISS because she wanted to take a light touch and not invoke violent, aggressive images in her marketing plan. She said several times that she avoided naming her program Stomp Out School Violence because it was too aggressive.