WILL Challenges DPI Powers on Behalf of School in Choice Program

Argues that DPI lacks legal authority to overrule auditors, mandate new requirements on choice program

May 19, 2015 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has been retained by Grace Christian Academy, a private school in the choice program in West Allis, in their legal fight against the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. WILL, on behalf of Grace Christian Academy, is challenging the legal authority of DPI to reject the results of financial audits conducted by independent certified public accountants. WILL also disputes DPI’s ability to impose accounting requirements that go beyond state law on schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Explains CJ Szafir, WILL Education Policy Director, “Our client adhered to the law in submitting their Financial Information Report, only to have DPI overrule the judgment of an independent auditor who followed the professional auditing standards. Unfortunately, this is not a new issue to the school choice community. DPI has a long history of employing questionable tactics.”

State law requires private schools in the choice program to submit Financial Information Reports to DPI that document the school’s costs and expenses related to educating children. State law also requires those schools to be subject to a financial audit by an independent, certified public accountant who must certify that the school’s report is free of material misstatements and fairly presents the schools pupil costs. Grace Christian Academy followed all of these requirements and independent auditors approved the school’s financials. But DPI – without any legal authority – rejected their report, and then proceeded to “audit” the “auditors” until DPI ultimately changed the report to their preferred results.

Grace Christian Academy has appealed DPI’s decision to the Wisconsin Division of Hearings and Appeals. WILL is representing Grace Christian Academy in the appeal. The hearing is scheduled for July 28 and 29.

“As a new school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, we are dismayed and frustrated at the treatment by the DPI,” said Cindi Hummitzsch, School Administrator of Grace Christian Academy. “DPI continued to move the goal posts on the reporting requirements. In the end, they rejected our audit and if their decision stands, it will end up costing us over $200,000 of school choice eligible capital expenditures.”

For more information about the case, In the Matter of Grace Christian Academy, please contact WILL’s Education Policy Director, CJ Szafir, at 414-272-9455.

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