Liberty Justice Center

Liberty Justice Center Urges Wisconsin Supreme Court to Reject Petition that Would Dismantle the Oldest School Choice Program in the United States

November 15, 2023

65,000 Wisconsin Students from Low- to Mid-income Families Face Displacement, Creating an Undue Burden on the State's Public Schools

On November 14, the Liberty Justice Center filed an amicus brief urging the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reject a petition that would dismantle the oldest school choice program in the United States—a program currently serving over 65,000 low-income and middle-income Wisconsin students.

In Underwood v. Vos, a group of petitioners are asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to issue a permanent injunction to terminate Wisconsin’s private school choice and charter school programs. If successful, their petition would force tens of thousands of students in Wisconsin to leave their schools of choice.

In its amicus brief, the Liberty Justice Center urges the Wisconsin Supreme Court to deny the petition, arguing that it would create an impossible burden on the state’s public school system and on Wisconsin families. Analyzing recent data compiled by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the brief argues that, in the Milwaukee Public Schools alone, the petition would force the sudden absorption of over 38,300 students—leading to a shortfall of more than 17,500 seats, forcing the purchase or construction of approximately 17 additional school buildings, and leaving a shortfall of over 2,300 teachers to maintain current student-teacher ratios.

“This petition would have catastrophic consequences for Wisconsin students and families,” said Dean McGee, Educational Freedom Attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “In addition to removing tens of thousands of students from their current schools, it would also drastically reduce the quality of education available to students in the Wisconsin public school system. These schools have already had to issue an unprecedented number of emergency teaching licenses to accommodate the students currently enrolled—it would be virtually impossible to meet the demand imposed by suddenly admitting thousands of additional students.”

The Liberty Justice Center thanks local counsel Bernardo Cueto, Esq., for his invaluable assistance with the brief.

The Liberty Justice Center’s amicus brief is available here.

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