The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a right-wing group, has filed suit against Milwaukee Public Schools demanding that MPS use its budget to bus private school students.
Funded by the racist right-wing Bradley Foundation, WILL has undertaken an aggressive campaign of actual and threatened litigation to ward off scrutiny of and crackdowns on voucher program abuses and to advocate for further expansion of the voucher program in the media and with the release of pseudo-science.
Read the following MJS article:
St. Joan Antida High School sues Milwaukee Public Schools over student busing
Erin Richards , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published March 22, 2017
A Milwaukee Catholic high school is suing Milwaukee Public Schools for denying busing to 70 students who should qualify for district-funded transportation under state law, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
St. Joan Antida High School, an all-girls voucher school located at 1341 N. Cass St., should be treated the same as a citywide high school in MPS, where children who live at least 2 miles from the school are provided transportation regardless of how close they live to a city bus line, the complaint says.
Funding transportation for the St. Joan Antida girls would cost MPS about $108,000 a year.
MPS spokeswoman Denise Callaway declined to comment, saying the district does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit was filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a conservative public-interest law firm that frequently represents the interests of private schools that accept vouchers. It notified the district in November that it intended to sue if MPS continued to deny St. Joan Antida’s request to bus the girls.
Paul Gessner, the head of school at St. Joan Antida, said he approached MPS in 2014 about obtaining transportation funding and was turned down in the final stages of verifying students. He later turned to WILL for assistance.
State law on busing agreements
A 1967 state law calls for school districts to provide busing to private-school students if they meet the following conditions: living more than 2 miles from the private school and within the attendance zone of the private school; and if their private school is located within the public school district’s boundary or within 5 miles of it. The statute says private-school students should be transported upon a “reasonably uniform basis” with public-school students.
The district is not necessarily obligated to provide students transportation — to a public or private school — if they live near a public bus line. According to the complaint, MPS makes an exception for children who attend its citywide specialty schools, such as Golda Meir and Rufus King, by busing them if they live at least 2 miles from their schools.
St. Joan Antida and WILL believe the district should extend that same exception to St. Joan Antida under the “reasonable uniformity” clause in the 1967 law. They say St. Joan Antida is essentially a citywide voucher school.
WILL wants a federal judge to prohibit MPS from “discriminating against students who attend private religious schools with respect to transportation benefits,” according to the complaint.
St. Joan Antida isn’t the only private school pressuring MPS for more bus money. Messmer Catholic Schools leaders have asked MPS to re-evaluate their transportation agreements because Messmer believes the district has been applying a technical point incorrectly. Emily Koczela, chief financial officer for Messmer, said Wednesday the change would mean an additional $100,000 for the school.
Messmer President Jim Piatt said he and the board of directors were weighing the next move.