Thursday, March 15, 2007

Update from Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families

Email Update from Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families

March 15, 2007

For more than two years now the Coalition has been keeping you informed about a lawsuit that the state teachers' union (WEAC) brought against the Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA). The Legal battle to keep WIVA open, and to protect both parental involvement and educational reform from a dangerous assault, is still in a critical stage. Although WIVA, with assistance from the Coalition, succeeded in the Trial Court in stopping WEAC and DPI from closing the school, the case is still under appeal.

The Court of Appeals could reverse the Trial Court, so WIVA could still be
in jeopardy, and the rights of all parents to participate in their
child's education are still under attack. The arguments advanced by
WEAC and DPI to close WIVA could dramatically impact not only other
virtual schools, but the rights of all Wisconsin parents to be involved
in the public education of their children.

Our attorney, Christopher Mohrman of the law firm Michael Best and Friedrich, has provided us with the following update:

On December 27, 2006, the Coalition submitted its non-party (amicus)
brief, which was our opportunity to provide the Court with our current
perspective on this case. In their briefing, WEAC maintains that
parents may conduct no teaching functions whatsoever if those functions
are part of a public schools' curriculum. The State Department of
Public Instruction (DPI) says that WIVA's parents are too involved, but
avoid giving any kind of definitive answer to where the line is. A
major point of the Coalition's brief is that both WEAC and DPI are
simply seeking to do in this case what they have not been able to get
the Legislature and Governor to do. The Coalition's brief is only 13
pages long, and well worth your time to review to understand what is at
stake in this litigation.

Read the brief here.

With all the filings before the Court of Appeals, now, we wait. The next
step will be for the Court to decide if it wants to take oral argument
or not. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals only hears oral argument in
about 10% of the cases. If it wants oral argument that signals that at
least some of the judges are struggling with questions in the case
after reading all the submissions. If oral argument is ordered, it
would probably occur this summer or late fall. A decision generally
takes about a year to receive, with or without oral argument. Of
course, these are generalities and different cases can be handled

While nothing is certain in litigation, the fact
that open enrollment has been completed would give us strong arguments
in support of a stay of any adverse order, at least for a complete
school year. A stay would be strongly supported by the fundamental
unfairness of closing a school after state law has foreclosed any other
options for the families choosing that school. While staying the
impact of a judgment is a discretionary decision of the Court, those
strong arguments could be advanced in the event of a negative decision
anytime in the next 12 months.

Our Coalition will keep you posted as this case proceeds.

So nice to read that the teacher's union doesn't want you involved with your child's education unless it's on their terms.
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