New Lawsuit Accuses Wisconsin DPI of Making School Choice More Difficult

The problem is that DPI is requiring "perfect" applications.
Parent Filling Out School Application

(The Center Square) – A new lawsuit accuses Wisconsin educators of using Byzantine paperwork to make it more difficult for parents and students to leave public schools.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Department of Public Instruction on behalf of School Choice Wisconsin Action and two private schools.

The lawsuit accused DPI of making it more difficult for parents to enroll their children in schools of choice.

“[Wisconsin’s] Parental Choice Program was designed to be an easy-to-use option for parents, and DPI’s unilateral implementation of additional requirements constitutes unlawful bureaucratic overreach,” WILL’s Cory Brewer said in a statement.

The problem is that DPI is requiring “perfect” applications.

WILL claims that DPI demands an absolute perfect match between the address and parental names on the application, as compared to the address and parental names on the residency document.

If a family lives on North Harrison Street in the Village of North Prairie, they would be allowed to write they live on “N. Harrison St.” but could not write their municipality as “N. Prairie.”

School Choice Wisconsin Action’s Jamie Luehring said DPI is using its rules to essentially keep kids in traditional public schools.

“DPI’s unrealistic rules hurt not just schools, but parents. Applying to a Choice school should not be any harder for families than registering to send their kids to their local public schools,” Luehring added.

Catholic Memorial High School is one of the private schools attached to the lawsuit. School President Donna Bembenek said kids shouldn’t be kept in public schools because of minor paperwork errors.

“Parents, not DPI, should be trusted to make the best educational choice for their child. Creating unnecessary red tape does not serve anyone or help parents access the best school for their child,” Bembenek said.

The lawsuit says because DPI has not promulgated its “application perfection” rule, it should be nullified. The lawsuit also questions whether DPI has exceeded its legislative mandate with other school regulations.

Benjamin Yount
Benjamin Yount writes for The Center Square.

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