Last week Media Trackers reported the Manitowoc School District was denying every application by parents to transfer their children to online charter schools in other districts under the state’s open enrollment program. This week Media Trackers is reporting Department of Public Instruction spokesman Thomas McCarthy says that every student that has previously appealed being denied open enrollment has won:

Assuming McCarthy is accurate, that would mean every family in the Manitowoc School district that was denied transfer to a [online charter school] by [district business manager Ken] Mischler ultimately saw his decision overturned on appeal. That would mean Mischler’s refusals are an exercise in futility that serve only to complicate a process for parents who want their children enrolled in an online school. McCarthy also told us that parents who have appealed, or plan to appeal their denial are allowed to enroll their kids in the school of their choice while the appeal process is under way. Appeals must be filed within 30 days of receiving a denial from their home district.

“We’re pleased to learn that this is the approach taken by DPI, but t​he needless hoop remains a burden on families​ and this Bureaucrats’ Veto needs to be removed from state statues, ” said Peder Berg, President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. “Districts like Manitowoc Public Schools must know their decisions are routinely overturned, yet they continue to try to bully parents into submission. They refuse to trust parents to make decisions in the best interest of their children. They should not have the power to try to intimidate parents out of exercising their education options. We’ll take our case to the legislature on September 13th.”

As the Media Trackers report notes, it is unknown how many parents that were denied open enrollment decided not to appeal.

During the regular open enrollment period in spring, parents can transfer their children to another school district provided there is space without receiving the permission of the home district. However, outside the regular open enrollment period parents can still transfer their students to another school district, including online charter schools, provided the home district approves.

The Manitowoc School District, according to Business Manager Ken Mischler, has a policy against preventing transfers to online charter schools. Mischler claims students return to the Manitowoc district behind their peers in school. However, in an interview with the Manitowoc Herald-Times Reporter, Mischler was unable to identify which online charter schools were returning students to the district unprepared for school.

Peder Berg, president of the  Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, called the Manitowoc policy “an abuse of power.”

“Online public charter schools have been a proven, vital and fundamental part of the Wisconsin educational landscape for more than a decade and a half,” said Berg. “The administrators in Manitowoc should be ashamed of themselves for arrogantly thinking that they, not parents, know what is in the best interest of these kids.”


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