ON-Lion Letter
Based on an open-records request of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) system, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty in Milwaukee concludes that the City of Milwaukee's policy of giving MPS the authority to designate and sell or lease its unused school buildings is a failure and violates the spirit of state law, 2011 Act 17

"Our report shows that MPS is preventing numerous charter schools and private schools in the choice program from purchasing empty, unused school buildings," according to WILL associate counsel and education-policy director CJ Szafir.  "In doing so, they are directly blocking thousands of children from attending a nearby, high-performing school.  And the City -- by ignoring its power to sell these buildings under Act 17 -- is equally culpable."

MPS's refusal to sell empty, unused buildings -- and the City in enabling MPS -- violates the spirit of state law, the report says.  Under Act 17, the Common Council can sell or lease school buildings if a building has been unused or underutilized for at least 12 consecutive months (including the 12 months prior to passage).  In other words, the City has complete control over the selling of school buildings. 

Instead, the City of Milwaukee ignored the legislature's request to sell the buildings.  It passed policies that explicitly prohibited private schools in the choice program from purchasing the buildings.  And it has enabled MPS to stonewall, frustrate, and prevent choice and charter schools from buying or leasing unused school buildings.    

WILL calls upon the City of Milwaukee to use the power the legislature gave it by immediately placing every vacant and unneeded school building on the market and allowing choice and charter schools to have a fair opportunity to purchase these buildings. 

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WILL.
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