DOJ Drops Meritless Investigation into Milwaukee School Choice Program

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 4, 2016) – The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, today celebrated a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to end its overreaching and unnecessary investigation into the Milwaukee voucher program. AFC also urged U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore to withdraw their letter from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and quit their attempt to use federal agencies to undermine a state-based school choice program.

“The decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to close its investigation into the Milwaukee School Choice program is both long overdue and a victory for students and parents who rely on the school choice program,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel to the American Federation for Children. “This is another example of the U.S. Department of Justice trying to interfere with the parents’ right to choose the best school for their son or daughter, and similar to the outcome in Louisiana – parental choice prevailed and the DOJ investigation was without merit.”

In 2011, opponents of parental choice asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Milwaukee voucher program for allegedly discriminating against students with disabilities. For four years DOJ has investigated the matter, but closed its investigation without any evidence of wrong doing or acts of discrimination.

In January 2015, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI), along with Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and other representatives, asked the U.S. General Accountability Office to investigate the merits of state based school choice programs.

“Reps. Pocan and Moore’s letter to the GAO is nothing more than a politically motivated attack on stated-based school choice programs that empower parents to have more control of their child’s education,” added Chavous. “I urge Rep. Pocan and Rep. Moore to stop wasting federal resources by trying to undermine parental school choice and focus on what’s best for parents and kids by breaking down the barriers to school choice nationwide.”

The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program is the nation’s oldest private school choice program, enacted in 1990, and today serves an estimated 30,000 students.

“Jason Fields is true public servant and champion for students in need seeking a quality education of their parents’ choice, and we are proud to see Wisconsin voters choose Fields in last night’s primary,” said Kevin P. Chavous, founding board member of the American Federation for Children. “This primary victory is a direct result of parents rising up to defend school choice and elect pro-school choice candidates.”

Fields is a Milwaukee native and previously served eight years in the Wisconsin State Assembly, where he was known to work across the aisle in order to ensure his constituents had access to quality educational options.

School choice has a great deal of bipartisan support in Wisconsin. According to a recent statewide survey, 54% of likely voters in Wisconsin support school choice. Support was strong among all political parties with 69% of Republicans, 49% of Independents and 42% of Democrats supporting the issue. Click here for full polling data.