March 10, 2015
CONTACT:    Sen.Larson 608.266.7505
                    Rep. Barnes 608.266.3756
Sen Larson and Rep Barnes Introduce the Student Equal Opportunity Act
Bill will strengthen rights and accountability standards for students with disabilities in voucher schools
Madison, WI – Today State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and Representative Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) introduced legislation aimed at strengthening rights for students with disabilities in voucher schools, as well as making sure they have teachers licensed and trained to educate children with special needs.
The Student Equal Opportunity Act would:
·         Require voucher schools to employ licensed special education teachers or therapists, if pupils needing such service attend the voucher school
·         Require voucher schools to comply with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 
·         Allow DPI to prohibit a private school from participating in a PCP if the private school fails to satisfy these requirements
“Protecting the rights of children with disabilities to receive a proper, quality education, tailored to their needs should be basic practice for all schools – public, charter, and voucher. Our bill is a first step in providing those protections to children with disabilities in Wisconsin’s publically funded voucher schools,” said Larson.
Larson continued, “Allegations of discrimination and mistreatment of students with disabilities in voucher schools is extremely alarming, and now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. Passing this bill would be a great leap forward in ensuring the right of our children to receive the quality education they have a right to under our State's constitution, and help put an end to the cycle of discrimination and mistreatment of special needs students in voucher schools today.”
Access to quality, discrimination-free education is a freedom and right that every child deserves, and Wisconsin students with disabilities absolutely should not be denied the opportunity to achieve and succeed in schools because of inadequate standards in any publicly funded schools,” said Rep. Barnes.  “Especially given that our publicly-funded vouchers schools are being investigated for complaints of discrimination against children with disabilities, this common-sense legislation is necessary to ensure basic accountability for students with disabilities who attend publicly funded schools and taxpayers who support them with their hard-earned money.”