University of Wisconsin System Charter School Opportunities, including Madison; Draft Recovery School Legislation

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, via Gary Bennett:

The University interprets its responsibility to authorize charter schools as a part of a larger attempt to improve education for children and in this instance, the education of children in the City. Charter schools must have programs that provide quality education to urban students and address the critical issues of today’s urban education environment. The academic achievement of children who are viewed as at-risk should be the central focus of the charter school application. Substantive outcomes must be given priority over process experiences if academic achievement is to serve as the central focus.

Being granted a charter to operate a school requires thought and planning as well as a committed organization that can sustain the development and operational requirements of a charter school. Potential applicants must be able to commit eighteen to twenty-four months of planning time before a charter school can become a reality.

The University and SOE consider the following principles to be essential to the development of charter schools authorized by the University. These principles are as follows:

Draft Wisconsin Recovery School Bill (PDF):

This bill authorizes the director of the Office of Educational Opportunity in the University of Wisconsin System to contract with a person to operate, as a four-year pilot project, one recovery charter school for no more than 15 high school pupils in recovery from substance use disorder or dependency. Under the bill, the operator must provide an academic curriculum that satisfies the requirement for graduation from high school as well as therapeutic programming and support for pupils attending the charter school. The bill requires a pupil who wishes to attend the recovery charter school to apply and to agree to all of the following: 1) that the pupil has begun treatment in a substance use disorder or dependency program; 2) that the pupil has maintained sobriety for at 30 days prior to attending the charter school; and 3) that the pupil will submit to a drug screening assessment and, if appropriate, a drug test prior to being admitted. The operator of the charter school may not admit a pupil who tests positive for the presence of a drug in his or her system. In addition, a pupil who enrolls in the school must receive counseling from substance use disorder or dependency counselors while enrolled in the charter school.

The contract between the operator of the recovery charter school and OEO must contain a requirement that, as a condition of continuing enrollment, an applicant for enrollment in the recovery charter school submit claims for coverage of certain services provided by the recovery charter school to his or her health care plan for which the applicant is covered for mental health services. The bill also requires the director of OEO to, following the fourth year of the operation of the charter school, submit a written report to the Department of Health Services regarding the operation and effectiveness of the charter school.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School several years ago.

Related: An emphasis on adult employment.