Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty
Press Release

DPI Drops Illegal Policy After WILL Lawsuit

WILL sued DPI for blocking family from state voucher program

By - Jul 2nd, 2020 01:01 pm

The News: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) agreed to end an illegal policy that blocked Wisconsin families from enrolling in the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP). The new Memorandum of Understanding from DPI and DOR stems from a WILL lawsuit filed in May after a West Allis family was denied entry into the WPCP as a result of an illegal “one and done” policy that prevented families from applying more than once during an enrollment period—regardless of a change in circumstances.

Background: The Olguin family, from West Allis, applied to the WPCP for their kindergartner and ninth grader to attend Heritage Christian Schools. When DPI determined the Olguins were $47 over the income threshold, the family made a legal contribution to an IRA account, resubmitted their tax return and reapplied to the program. But DPI refused to consider their new application, citing the agency’s “one and done” policy.

In May, WILL sued DPI in Waukesha County Circuit Court on behalf of the Olguins, Heritage Christian Schools, and School Choice Wisconsin Action (SCWA). WILL alleged DPI’s “one and done” application policy is illegal and, further, circumvented the rulemaking process established in state law.

The Resolution: DPI and DOR have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that eliminates the “one and done” policy. As a result, the Olguin family was able to access a voucher through the WPCP and enroll at Heritage Christian Schools.

WILL dismissed the lawsuit filed against the state education agency on June 26.

The Quotes: President of Heritage Christian Schools John Davis said, “We are very happy that the Olguin family will receive the school choice funding they were qualified to receive. It is satisfying to know that other parents who face similar circumstances in the future will be able to have their cases reviewed.”

WILL Deputy Counsel Lucas Vebber said, “DPI’s decision to abandon their illegal policy is a welcome one. WILL is prepared to stand with all Wisconsin families who want to attend the school that meets their needs.”

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