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MPS Debates Partnership to Fix Failing Schools

A state law meant to help failing public schools is sparking controversy in Milwaukee.

That law created the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program (OSPP), which puts a commissioner in charge of some of those troubled schools, but opponents say it’s a takeover of public schools.

The Milwaukee School Board held a special session Tuesday to discuss the proposal from the OSPP commissioner. Dr. Darienne Driver, the MPS superintendent, says it’s too soon for her to say if she supports the district signing on to the plan.

“There are a number of pieces that are presented in the plan, whether it's academics or operations, that really just require some additional clarity,” Driver said. “There are some of the statements that are made in the plan that are in opposition to the way that the law was written, and so we are seeking legal counsel to support us and going through that statute as well.”

Several people protested the proposal Monday night, saying it’s a takeover of public schools. There are concerns that teachers would have to reapply for their jobs if their school is selected for the program. The OSPP commissioner, Dr. Demond Means, says this plan would only involve one school next year, though that school has not been named. And he says it's the opposite of a take over

“Teachers would keep their jobs, the funding would stay with Milwaukee public schools but the most important component of it is that the legislation states that after five years, the schools don’t have to go back to MPS,” Means said. “The partnership that we put on the table with MPS is they go back to MPS.”

On Tuesday, County Executive Chris Abele issued a statement saying he hopes MPS will work with him and the commissioner. Otherwise he says the law does allow those failing schools to be taken from the district and along with the schools, would go millions of dollars in funding. The school board has to make a decision by June 23

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