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Feds tells DPI to better monitor private schools for disabled student discrimination


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - The U.S. Justice Department has told Wisconsin’s education agency to make sure that disabled students in the private school voucher program are not discriminated against.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Disability Rights-Wisconsin, and the parents of three kids filed a complaint in 2011. They said the Milwaukee private schools in the state’s voucher program were short-changing disabled youngsters.

Justice officials told the state Department of Public Instruction to improve its oversight of voucher schools, and their practices for enrolling and serving disabled students. The complaint said less than two-percent of voucher students had plans to have special needs met, compared to 20-percent in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

Voucher school officials have disputed the percentages.

They say they’re too low because the government doesn’t give them the financial incentives that the public schools get to serve such children.

Washington told the DPI to set up a system for handling discrimination complaints from voucher students – and to collect more information about disabled youngsters starting next fall.

The Justice Department actually gave its order on April ninth, but it was not made public until Thursday, after the ACLU obtained the order using the Freedom of Information Act.

The DPI says it’s still reviewing the federal order.