Wisconsin Private Schools Sue In Effort To Compel Voucher Aid

A group of private school advocates in Wisconsin has sued the state after officials refused to allow their schools to enter the state’s voucher program.


The school organizers claim that Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers violated their due process rights by allowing a private entity, a center at MarquetteUniversity, to determine if the schools could enter the program, reported the MilwaukeeJournal Sentinel.


Wisconsin’s voucher plan, the oldest in the nation, is limited to Milwaukee. Under recently approved rules, state education officials work with the Institute for the Transformation of Learning, a think tank that is cited at Marquette, a Roman Catholic institution, to determine schools’ eligibility.


The Institute’s New Schools Advisory Board examines schools that want to enter the program and decides if they get in or not. The Institute is headed by Howard Fuller, a voucher advocate and former Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent.


Although Fuller had originally recommended limited regulation of the private schools in the voucher program, he has recently shifted and begun arguing for more government control. State legislators agree and recently passed new laws tightening the regulation of voucher schools.


In July, Fuller’s board granted approval to just three new private schools, rejecting 16 other applicants. In previous years, between eight and 15 schools were usually approved.


Attorneys for the schools that are suing say school organizers want the right to appeal the decisions made by the New Schools Advisory Board.


Corey Daniels, who has planned to open a school called the Milwaukee Institute of Academic Achievement, told WUWM radio that officials at Marquette should not have the right to screen voucher schools.


“The Institute for the Transformation of Learning should not just be the only individual who can approve education plans,” Daniels said. “And then again we say, these are individuals coming from a Catholic entity, so who’s not to say that the choice school would be shaped according to one person’s personal beliefs or things like that.”