Bill Requiring Background Checks For Voucher School Teachers Advances In Senate

Proposal Would Also Bar Voucher Schools From Hiring Teachers With Criminal Records

Don Ryan/AP Photo

A plan that would require background checks for teachers at Wisconsin voucher schools is moving quickly through the state Legislature.

The plan would also bar voucher schools from employing teachers who aren’t eligible for teaching licenses because of their criminal history and eliminate requirements that voucher schools have to meet to receive state money, including student attendance, grade level promotion and academic growth.

Jeff Pertl, senior policy adviser at the state Department of Public Instruction, said during public testimony Friday that much of the bill is aimed at standardizing regulation of the state’s four different voucher programs.

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Much of this is trying to provide some uniform standard, either in how applications work, how policies work across the programs and, from our perspective, to the degree that we can, applying uniform standards in areas between public schools and private schools,” Pertl said.

Democrats voted against the plan in committee, saying voucher schools need more regulation.

“We still haven’t gotten to the larger issue of making sure that we have full accountability to the same level that we have with our public schools,” said Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee.

The proposal passed the committee on a party-line vote. It’s expected to go before the full Senate next week.