DPI Says Assembly School Accountability Proposal Could Be Thrown Out In Court

Bill Would Replace Failing Public Schools With Charter Schools

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, the author of the Assembly school accountability bill. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature.

The state Department of Public Instruction says a Republican plan to turn struggling public schools into charter schools could get thrown out in court.

DPI’s Jeff Pertl said part of the problem with the bill is that there are many districts with only a single public school, and about two-thirds of districts statewide have only a single elementary school, a single middle school and a single high school.

“So if we replace the school, what we’re really doing is kind of eliminating the option for a traditional public school in those areas,” said Pertl.

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Pertl said courts have ruled that eliminating that option is unconstitutional.

Beyond potential legal issues, Pertl said lawmakers should be careful about assuming that charter schools, which are typically more specialized, are either willing or able to take over a large traditional public school that serves a broader population. He also said that creating more charter schools will cut state aid to traditional public schools, effectively raising property taxes in those districts.