Schools Face Cut-Off of Voucher Funds Because of Refusal To Submit Random Selection Plan
Two dozen private schools received a warning this week from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that their final voucher payment for the year may be cut off unless they comply by May 1 with state regulations requiring them to submit plans providing for the random selection of voucher students. The March 23 memo from DPI warns that failure to comply would also make these private schools ineligible to participate in the voucher program in the coming year.
People For the American Way Foundation received word of DPI's warning after it and the Milwaukee NAACP last month filed a legal complaint charging that more than a third of Milwaukee's 88 private voucher schools are or could be in noncompliance with the random selection requirements.
Last year, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state's voucher plan in part because the voucher law required "random selection" of voucher students, as opposed to selection based on race, geography, academic status or other factors. The complaint filed last month by PFAWF and the NAACP charged that many voucher schools violated the requirement regarding random selection admission plans.
"This is appalling evidence that some voucher schools never intended to open their doors to all the children," said PFAWF President Carole Shields. "Vouchers were sold to Wisconsin legislators and defended before the Wisconsin Supreme Court with the promise that all voucher students would get an equal chance to participate through random selection, not selection based on religious belief or other factors. That promise has been broken."
This week, DPI informed PFAWF that of the 35 voucher schools that either had clearly violated the requirement that they adopt a random selection plan or could be in violation, only five schools had submitted plans that have been approved, six schools had submitted plans and were awaiting approval and another 24 schools had failed to respond to DPI at all. DPI warned these schools that they "seriously risk having the final May, 1999 voucher payment withheld if a valid and approved random selection process" for the next school year is not submitted by May 1.
The schools that received DPI's warning and could face a loss of voucher dollars are: Blessed Trinity Catholic School, Blyden Delany Academy, Clara Muhammad School, Gray's Child Development Centers, Holy Redeemer Christian Academy, Lutheran Special School, Marquette University High School, Medgar Evers Academy, Nazareth Lutheran School, North Milwaukee Christian School, Oklahoma Ave. Lutheran School, Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Saint Adalbert School, Saint Augustine School, Saint Helen Grade School, Saint Marcus Lutheran School, Saint Sebastian School, Saint Vincent Pallotti East, Saint Vincent Pallotti West, Sherman Park Academy, Texas Bufkin Academy, Urban Day School, and Woodson Academy.
Read the Legal Complaint from PFAWF and NAACP.