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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

 3:07 PM 

Assembly Dems seek funding from shuttered voucher school

After passage of a bill to alter the fees charged for election recounts, Assembly Dems offered a resolution that would direct the Assembly Organization Committee to seek the recovery of state funds from a former Milwaukee private school.

Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said the measure would request that state agencies "recover any state funds that may be collectible from LifeSkills Academy," a participant in Milwaukee's private school choice program that Barca said "swindled the state out of $2 million," then shut down and departed for Florida "in the dead of night" last week.

"Who here doesn't want to recover these funds that these bad actors swindled us out of?" Barca asked Republicans.

Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, also said it would direct the Department of Public Instruction to notify Florida of the track record of the school's administrators.

"This is what the reality of voucher schools can look like," Goyke said.

"I want this to stop right now. A school in my district closed in the middle of the night, and now they're living in Florida and they're doing it again."

Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, said supporters of choice programs "absolutely" want to see appropriate policing of such violations, not only from the Department of Public Instruction but from the Department of Justice and local prosecutors.

"They don't need to have resolutions from the Legislature telling them to go do their job," Knudson said.

He also said that while LifeSkills should not have closed in the manner that it did, the tragedy lawmakers should be focused on is "failing schools that aren't closed."

UPDATE -- 3:24 p.m.: The chamber rejected a motion to take up the resolution 39-59.


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