In Monday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article entitled “Special-needs vouchers cost districts $2.4 million in aid,” we learned that a Wisconsin voucher school is gaming current school funding rules to receive a larger chunk of taxpayer dollars for students with special needs:
St. Marcus leaders directed their parents of children with disabilities to apply for open enrollment at suburban districts that they knew had no seats available and that they knew their parents had no desire to attend. Once the districts denied the applications, the St. Marcus children were eligible for the higher-paying vouchers.
While it is technically legal, it seems pretty unconscionable that a school’s leadership would be asking parents and guardians to purposely engage in behavior that reeks to the average taxpayer, especially when we learn where those questionably obtained tax dollars came from:
Milwaukee Public Schools has the largest number of resident children using new special-needs vouchers. The district will lose about $1.8 million in state aid to pay for about 150 resident students.
Voucher schools like St. Marcus, although they claim they provide specialized services for students with special needs, are under no obligation to do so and the parents who send their students to St. Marcus or any other voucher school waive all disability rights their children would have in a public school district. Wisconsin taxpayers deserve to see their tax dollars dispersed in a transparent way that does not allow voucher schools like St. Marcus to game the system and in the process siphon critical dollars from the only schools that have the commitment, capacity, and legal responsibility to educate all children, including students with special needs.