Case Name: Heritage Christian Schools, Inc. et al v. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, et al
Type of Case: Education
Court: Waukesha County Circuit Court
Filed On: May 18, 2020
Current Status: Complaint filed, answer pending
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.
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.
WILL filed this lawsuit on behalf of the Olguins, Heritage Christian Schools, and School Choice Wisconsin Action, alleging that DPI’s ‘one and done’ application policy is illegal. When administrative agencies adopt rules and regulations, they are required to proceed through a rulemaking process outlined in state law. This ensures proper public notice and legislative oversight. DPI failed to follow this process.
WILL is asking the Court to rule that DPI’s policy violates the rulemaking process and provide relief for the Olguin family, declaring that they are eligible for the WPCP.
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