Case Name: Saint Joan Antida High School, Inc. v. Milwaukee Public Schools

Type of Case: Education

Court: E.D. Wisconsin District Court; Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Number: 17-CV-413 (E.D. Wis.); 18-1673 (7th Cir.)

Filed On: March 21, 2017

Current Status: Case dismissed

State law requires local school districts to provide transportation to all qualifying children in their district – even if they attend private schools.  This makes sense given that parents of private school children pay property taxes to their local school district and the vital public interest in ensuring all children in Milwaukee are transported to and from school in a safe manner.

But Milwaukee Public School District (MPS) refuses to follow state law and has been denying children their busing rights.  By law, they have to transport private school children in a uniform manner as they transport public school children.  MPS will bus children who attend a city-wide public school, but not a city-wide private school.  MPS also imposes an arbitrary cut-off date for private students but not public students.

On behalf of St. Joan Antida High School, WILL sued MPS and asked a federal court to rule that MPS is unlawfully discriminating against students who attend private schools.  The district court dismissed both claims.

We appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which upheld dismissal of the claim based on discrimination between city-wide schools, but reversed and remanded on the cut-off date claim.  Unfortunately, since all the students who were denied due to late application also failed to meet the one-mile criterion, none could receive transportation anyway, so the case was effectively finished.

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