2011 - 2012 LEGISLATURE
April 26, 2011 - Introduced by Representatives Litjens, Fields, Wynn, Knudson,
Nass, Pridemore, Thiesfeldt, Vos, Kleefisch, LeMahieu, Nygren, Strachota,
Bernier, Bies, Brooks, Endsley, Farrow, Honadel, Jacque, Knilans,
Kooyenga, Kramer, Krug, Kuglitsch, T. Larson, Mursau, Petryk, Rivard,
Severson, Spanbauer, Tiffany and Ziegelbauer, cosponsored by Senators
Vukmir, Moulton, Galloway and Darling. Referred to Committee on
1An Act to amend
20.255 (2) (cy), 115.77 (1), 115.791 (4), 121.08 (4) (c), 121.08 (4) 2
(d) and 121.54 (3); and to create
20.255 (2) (az), 115.7915, 121.05 (1) (a) 4. and 3
121.08 (4) (am) of the statutes; relating to: creating the Special Needs
4Scholarship Program for disabled pupils, granting rule-making authority, and
5making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill establishes a Special Needs Scholarship Program. Under the program,
a child with a disability may receive a scholarship to attend a public school located
outside the pupil's school district of residence, or a private school, if all of the
following conditions are met:
1. The school has notified the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) of its
intent to participate in the program and the child has been accepted by the school.
2. If the school is a private school, it is approved as a private school by DPI or
3. An individualized education program (IEP) has been completed for the child.
4. The child attended a public school, or did not attend school in this state, in
the previous school year.
Upon receipt of an application for a scholarship, DPI must review the child's
IEP and determine the amount of the child's scholarship. The amount is the lesser
of the cost to the child's school district of residence, or the cost to the school district
or private school that the child wishes to attend, of providing regular instruction,
instructional and pupil support services, special education and related services, and
supplementary aids and services to the child. If the child is attending for less than
a full school term, DPI must prorate the amount of the scholarship.
DPI pays the scholarship directly to the school or school district that the child
will attend. The scholarship continues while the child attends a school eligible to
participate in the program until he or she graduates from high school or until the end
of the school term in which he or she turns 21, whichever comes first.
Under the bill, a pupil attending a private school, or a public school outside the
pupil's school district of residence, under the program is counted for state aid
purposes by the pupil's school district of residence. However, the state aid paid to
that school district is reduced by the total amount of scholarships paid by DPI for
pupils who reside in that school district.
Each private school participating in the program must comply with applicable
health and safety laws; hold a valid occupancy permit, if required by the
municipality; comply with federal law that prohibits discrimination against any
person on the basis of race, color, or national origin; and conduct criminal background
investigations of its employees and exclude from employment any person not
permitted to hold a teaching license as the result of an offense any any person who
might reasonably be believed to pose a threat to the safety of others.
The private school must also annually submit to DPI a school financial report
prepared by a certified public accountant. If the private school expects to receive at
least $50,000 in scholarships during a school year, it must either file a surety bond
with DPI or provide DPI with information demonstrating that it has the ability to
pay an amount equal to the total amount of scholarships that it expects to receive.
The bill provides that if a child attends a private school under the program, his
or her school district of residence must provide transportation to and from the school
if the school is located at least two miles from the child's residence, the child resides
in the private school's attendance area, and the private school is situated within the
school district of residence or not more than five miles beyond the boundaries of the
If the child attends a public school under the program, the child's parent is
responsible for transporting the child to and from school unless transportation is
required in the child's IEP. If the latter applies, the school district that the child
attends is responsible for transporting the child. The bill allows a low-income pupil
to apply to DPI for reimbursement of transportation costs.
The bill authorizes DPI to bar a school from participating in the program if the
school intentionally and substantially misrepresents information required under
the bill, routinely fails to comply with financial standards, uses a pupil's scholarship
for any purpose other than educational purposes, or fails to refund any scholarship
overpayments to the state.
Finally, the bill directs the Legislative Audit Bureau to contract for a study of
the program. The results of the study must be reported to the legislature by January
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB110, s. 1
20.255 (2) (az) of the statutes is created to read:
(az) Special Needs Scholarship Program.
A sum sufficient to pay the 3
special needs scholarships under s. 115.7915.
AB110, s. 2
20.255 (2) (cy) of the statutes is amended to read:
(cy) Aid for transportation; open enrollment and special needs
The amounts in the schedule to reimburse parents for the costs of 7
transportation of open enrollment
pupils under ss.
118.51 (14) (b),
118.52 (11) (b).
AB110, s. 3
115.77 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
In sub. (1m) (a) to (d), except as provided in s. 118.51 (12) (a) and (b) 11
2., if a child with a disability is attending a public school in a nonresident school 12
district under s. 115.7915,
or 121.84 (1) (a) or (4), "local educational agency" 13
means the school district that the child is attending.
AB110, s. 4
115.791 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
Subject to s. 115.77 (1m) (d) and (e), this section does not require 16
a local educational agency to pay the cost of education, including special education 17
and related services, of a child with a disability at a private school or facility,
18including a child with a disability attending a private school under s. 115.7915,
if the 19
local educational agency made a free appropriate public education available to the 20
child and the child's parents elected to place the child in a private school or facility.
AB110, s. 5
115.7915 of the statutes is created to read:
1115.7915 Special Needs Scholarship Program. (1) Definition.
In this 2
section, "eligible school" means a public school located outside the pupil's school 3
district of residence or a private school.
4(1m) Scholarship requirements.
Beginning in the 2011-12 school year, a child 5
with a disability shall receive a scholarship under this section to attend an eligible 6
school if all of the following apply:
(a) The school district in which the eligible public school is located or the eligible 8
private school notified the state superintendent of its intent to participate in the 9
program under this section.
(b) The school, if a private school, is approved by the state superintendent 11
under s. 118.165 (2) or is accredited by the Wisconsin North Central Association, the 12
Wisconsin Religious and Independent Schools Accreditation, the Independent 13
Schools Association of the Central States, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, or any 14
other organization recognized by the National Council for Private School 15
Accreditation as of the August 1 preceding the school term for which the scholarship 16
(c) An individualized education program has been completed for the child.
(d) The child attended a public school, or did not attend school in this state, in 19
the school year immediately preceding the school year for which the child first 20
receives a scholarship under this section.
(e) The child, or the child's parent on behalf of the child, has submitted an 22
application to the department, on a form prepared by the department, for a 23
scholarship under this section to attend the eligible school. An application may be 24
made, and a child may begin attending an eligible school under this section, at any 25
time during the school year.
(f) The child has been accepted by the school district in which the eligible public 2
school is located or the eligible private school.
3(2) Department duties.
Upon receipt of an application under sub. (1m) (e), the 4
department shall do all of the following:
(a) Notify the school board of the pupil's school district of residence that the 6
pupil has requested a scholarship under this section. The school board shall, within 7
3 days of receiving the notice, provide the department with a copy of the pupil's 8
individualized education program.
(b) Review the pupil's individualized education program provided under par. 10
(a) and determine the amount of the pupil's scholarship. The amount shall be the 11
lesser of the following:
1. The cost to the pupil's school district of residence of providing to the pupil 13
regular instruction, instructional and pupil support services, special education and 14
related services, and supplementary aids and services.
2. The cost to the school district in which the eligible public school is located 16
or the eligible private school of providing the instruction and services specified in 17
(bm) Prorate the amount determined under par. (b) for a pupil attending an 19
eligible school for less than a full school term.
(c) Notify the parent of the scholarship amount, as determined under par. (b) 21
or (bm), accompanied by an explanation of how the amount was determined.
(d) On behalf of the pupil's parent, pay the scholarship to the school district or 23
private school that the pupil attends from the appropriation under s. 20.255 (2) (az). 24
The scholarship shall continue while the pupil attends an eligible school until the
pupil graduates from high school or until the end of the school term in which the pupil 2
attains the age of 21, whichever comes first.