By means of vouchers, tax-raised funds pay the bills for many private schools, but public officials do not take responsibility for the civil liberties of students in those schools.
If they did, voucher schools dependent on public funds could not promote religion. Government could not provide incentives for children to attend religious schools.
In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) asked the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce the civil rights of disabled children who want to enroll in Milwaukee voucher schools.
If the the federal government accepts responsibility for the practices of voucher schools, those of us who want government to end voucher subsidies of religious education can make good use of the precedent.
DRW says the state has failed to hold voucher schools accountable for serving children with disabilities and has created a program that segregates and isolates such children.
“Right now only about 1.6% of voucher students have disabilities, while 19.5% of Milwaukee Public School Students do,” said Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Wisconsin.
“Twenty years of offering vouchers to attend private schools in Milwaukee have demonstrated that children with disabilities are not welcome in Milwaukee’s private schools, said Jeffrey Pizer Resnick, attorney for DRW.
“Even worse is when these voucher schools occasionally accept children with disabilities, take their voucher funds, and then expel them.…Our complaint includes one family whose children with disabilities were not admitted to a voucher school, and another whose disabled child was kicked out of a vouchers school.…”
The case is Disability Rights Wisconsin v. Wisconsin.