The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) sued the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on behalf of a West Allis family, Heritage Christian Schools, and School Choice Wisconsin Action (SCWA), after the department adopted an illegal policy to block a family from enrolling in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) – the statewide voucher program. The lawsuit was filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
Background: To apply for the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP), families must submit financial information to determine whether they meet the income eligibility requirements in state statute – 220% of the poverty line. Further, the WPCP has specific grade entry points for students who are already in a private school – kindergarten, 1st, and 9th grade – meaning families with children in private schools who want to participate in the WPCP have specific windows when they are eligible to apply.
The Lawsuit: When the Olguin family in West Allis applied to the WPCP for their kindergartner and 9th grader to attend Heritage Christian Schools, a high performing school, DPI determined the family was $47 over the income threshold. To meet the threshold, the Olguin family made a legal contribution to an IRA account, resubmitted their tax return and reapplied to the program. But DPI refused to consider the Olguin’s new application, citing a ‘one and done’ policy that families are allowed only one submission during an enrollment period – regardless of a change in circumstances. Without relief, their 9th grade son will never receive a voucher unless he were to switch schools from a private school to a public school and then back again.