Thursday, June 16, 2016

Walker/Schimel attack Department of Public Instruction pushing costly taxpayer bus rides for kids in Religious Schools.

Under Scott Walker and the Republicans, the law can be manipulated just enough to guarantee a certain outcome, no matter how much it defies the intent of a law or how much it will eventually cost hardworking taxpayers. You can bet the recent State Supreme Court decision taking control of the Department of Public Instruction away from Walker was at the heart of this retaliation.

First, Walker's sweet revenge would make it harder to defend laws he doesn't like in court:

WSJ: Gov. Scott Walker is blocking the state Department of Public Instruction from seeking outside counsel in a lawsuit filed in federal court — a move that comes after the state Department of Justice dropped the education agency as a client in the suit.
UPDATE: According to former AG Peg Laughtenschlager, Walker has a legal obligation to appoint representation to DPI. From the Devil's Advocated Radio show:

Having a right wing "institute" and lawsuit mill ready to defend school privatization special interests with deep pockets helps too:
The parents ... represented by conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty allege the Freiss Lake School District and DPI are denying the parents’ First Amendment rights and are violating their right to exercise religion by not providing transportation for their children to school.
You know story, asking taxpayer to foot the bus ride for their kids, 5 days a week to what is essentially "Sunday school." Very Republican of them, but not very fiscally conservative or small government (I thought they didn't need government help?).
State law requires public school districts to provide transportation to private school students, but only to one school per religious denomination in an attendance area.

Friess Lake school officials denied the children transportation because they live in the attendance area of another Catholic school that already receives state transportation, and is affiliated with the Milwaukee Roman Catholic Archdiocese ... DPI sided with the school district in March.
The right wing lawsuit mill is exploiting a possible loophole that could cost taxpayers lots of money, and prompt other religious schools to rewrite their "articles of incorporation," removing any reference to their religion. 
CJ Szafir, an attorney representing the parents, said based on a former Supreme Court decision, the law requires the DPI to only look at a school’s articles of incorporation to determine a school’s affiliation. Those articles describe the school as a private school governed independently of any denomination. 
It's a big loophole because the school itself could get away with claiming their religion on their website, school name and promotional materials, but never mention it in their article of incorporation.
The school’s website offers a more precise description of the school — “an independent and private traditional Roman Catholic School.”

“This case will come down to what kind of inquiry the government can use to determine whether two private schools are affiliated with one another,” said Szafir.
Walker and Schimel want a narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court decision, wording not mentioned in the article here:
DPI contends the same Supreme Court decision does not prohibit DPI or the school from looking beyond the articles of incorporation to determine whether attendance area of schools within the same religious denomination overlap. In essence, legal precedent asks DPI in these situations to determine whether a school is Catholic, Lutheran or based in other religions, which is what the department did.
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