Private school threatens to sue MPS over transportation

Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 16, 2016

A Milwaukee private high school is threatening to sue the Milwaukee Public School District for not providing transportation to dozens of students.

The leader of St. Joan Antida says state law requires MPS to pay for transportation. For the past several years, the private school has been paying a private company for bus services. Three buses arrive at the every morning and afternoon on school days. It’s a necessity for many students who don't have another option.

"It's important for her because she works too and she starts around the same time," Rosario Rios Cerda translated for her mother.

Seventy students, including Rios Cerda, live at least two miles away from school. According to Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), state law requires local public school districts to transport students from public and city-wide private schools if they meet the qualifications.

"I even obtained birth certificates from families to verify legal names and we gathered information for addresses," said Head of School Paul Gessner.

Last year, Gessner made a push to get MPS to provide busing. Gessner tells TODAY’S TMJ4 the school was shut down after district leaders said they do not fund transportation to private high schools. This year alone, the decision cost St. Joan Antida $108,000 to provide transportation for its students.

"We want MPS to pay for the busing for this year and moving forward, do what they're supposed to do and provide the transportation for our students," Gessner said.

MPS responded, saying they received communication from WILL on Wednesday.

“We are in the process of reviewing it and will respond after we've had an opportunity to do so,” said MPS spokeswoman Katie Cunningham.  

Now that WILL Is involved, they have given the district 120 days notice to change their transportation policies. If nothing happens they plan to file a lawsuit, including backpay for this year's busing.