Friday, February 10, 2012

Wisconsin Shrugs Off Duty to Voucher-School Kids

By means of vouchers, tax-raised funds pay the bills for many religious schools, but public officials disclaim responsibility for the civil liberties of the students in those schools.
If courts held governments responsible for the practices of the schools they fund, those schools could not promote religion.
Therefore, voucher opponents have a stake in a Wisconsin suit that asks the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce the civil rights of disabled children who want to enroll in Milwaukee voucher schools.
Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW) says the state has not required the schools to provide services to children with disabilities and has created a program that segregates and isolates those children.
In September, the DOJ started the investigation with 22 questions for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
In answer after answer, the DPI disclaimed responsibility for the schools’ conduct.
Here are some sample questions and answers. MPCP stands for Milwaukee Public School Choice Program and IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Act.
Q. “Please provide copies of all…materials DPI has sent to participating MPCP schools related to…obligations under…the IDEA …?
A. “Because none of these laws apply to the schools participating in the MPCP,…no…documents have been sent to them.…
“Q. Please describe whether and how DPI tracks data regarding application, enrollment, retention, outreach, disenrollment, transfer, and suspension or expulsion, of children with disabilities in MPCP schools.
“A. .…the statute governing the MPCP neither authorizes DPI to request nor requires schools participating in the MPCP to provide the…data.…Therefore, it is not collected.”
DRW and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) back the suit, Disability Rights Wisconsin v. Wisconsin.

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