Equality Under the Law Toolbox

Case Name: School Choice Wisconsin v. Carolyn Stanford Taylor

Type of Case: Good Government; School Choice

Court: Jefferson County Circuit Court

Case Number: 19-CV-519

Filed On: November 6, 2019

Current Status: Summary judgment decision in October 2020.

Background: State law is clear: certain types of data on Wisconsin’s school choice programs must be released “all at the same time, uniformly, and completely.” There are no exceptions. But on September 11, DPI chose to violate this straightforward law by releasing incomplete and misleading school choice data to a select media list a day before the September 12 public release.

DPI violated the law in three critical ways:

  • DPI released incomplete data on the school choice program to the news media, including journalist Matt Kittle, on September 11 – a day before the public release. This violated the law’s “all at the same time,” “uniform,” and “complete” requirements.
  • When WILL and WILL Research Director Will Flanders were denied the ability to participate in the September 11 press call, this violated the law’s “all at the same time,” “uniform,” and “complete” requirements.
  • DPI grouped the test scores of all Wisconsin choice students together in their press release. But Wisconsin’s three parental choice programs are different. The parental choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine have an income threshold of 300% of the poverty line, while the Wisconsin program is at 220%. Grouping Milwaukee, Racine, and Wisconsin together is misleading, and an unfair characterization of the choice program that violated the “uniform” and “complete” requirements.

Current Status: Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Bennett Brantmeier issued a summary judgment decision in a lawsuit brought by WILL that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) violated state law when the state agency released partial data on Wisconsin’s school choice programs to a select media list ahead of a September 2019 public release. The Court’s decision includes a permanent injunction to prevent DPI from violating state law that says data on Wisconsin’s school choice programs must be released “all at the same time, uniformly, and completely.”

CASE DOCUMENTS