MPS, County Exec. Abele clash on school takeover plan

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 20:46:41-04

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Public Schools is fighting back against a law that some say would take away schools in the district. 

Last year, lawmakers voted to allow a private entity to take over one to three underperforming schools in Milwaukee.  It's known as the Opportunity School District Plan. Friday MPS rejected it, saying it could be the beginning of the end of public schools.

The superintendent says she has a plan to prevent a takeover, but not everyone is on board.

Dr. Darienne Driver outlined all the reasons why she says this new law will hamper student education in Milwaukee.

"The academic and circular programing lacks detail and clarity, the school funding plan is still unclear,"  said Dr. Driver.

In addition, Dr. Driver says steps have not been taken to identify which schools would be taken over. Dr. Means says there's a reason for that.

"We were prepared to do our due diligence, we delayed the process in hope that MPS would come to the table and work with us in a collaborative fashion," said Dr. Demon Means, commissioner.

Dr. Driver thinks parents would need to be involved in the process.

"Selecting a school would be unfair to school communities because they have not had the opportunity to participate in focus groups, interviews, and observations that are truly a part of designing a school improvement strategy of any school," said Dr. Driver.

On Friday, MPS rejected the opportunity school district plan, upsetting Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele who said "We are disappointed that Dr. Driver has rejected our proposal to protect MPS jobs, funding, enrollment and governance."

MPS is now floating a new idea.  Dr. Driver says instead of taking over a school, the district could set up an early childhood center with space at Assata High School.  It would have a separate entrance, but could share other things.

"I believe that this is within the limits of the law that was presented through the OSPP . This would truly be a value-add for our system and for our city," said Dr. Driver.

There is a June 23rd deadline on the table.  That's when the County Executive would like to know whether MPS will join them in a partnership on this, or if he will have to move forward without support of the district.