Private School Choice Programs

Overview

Wisconsin is home to the nation’s oldest and largest school choice program. The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) (see state statute 119.23) began in the 1990-91 school year. Its success led to the creation of the Racine Parental Choice Program (RPCP) and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (or statewide program) (WPCP). The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) refers to this group of programs as the Private School Choice Programs (PSCP).

While all of the programs allow K-12 students from low-income families who reside in the designated boundaries to attend participating private schools, there are certain eligibility criteria, specific to each program that must be met.

Where can I find more information about the PSCP?

Specific details regarding each of the three programs can be found beginning on page 6 of the 2016-17 WCRIS Legal Handbook.  WCRIS members can access the electronic version online here, with their log in information.

Given the evolution of the Private School Choice Programs (PSCP) in Wisconsin, the statutory provisions are codified in a number of different sections.

  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program still remains in its original location in State statute 119.23.
  • Racine’s Parental Choice Program and the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program are both described in State statute 118.60.
  • Additional guidance regarding Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program has also been prepared with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. That can be found in Wisconsin’s Administrative Code, Chapter PI 35.

In addition, because the legislative changes regarding the State’s Private School Choice Programs occur quite routinely, WCRIS highly recommends that schools and families interested in the PSCP review recent legislative change summaries that can be found on the DPI’s Private School Choice Programs page. The web address is not listed here because the DPI periodically changes the URL. Go to the DPI website here and enter “private school choice program” in the search box.

Available Resources

The DPI regularly posts required documents for schools and parents interested in participating in the Wisconsin PSCPs for the upcoming school year. Information on the DPI’s website includes:

  • Lists of schools participating in each program – MPCP, RPCP, WPCP
  • Information for new and continuing Choice schools
  • Auditor information for schools
  • Financial obligation guidelines
  • Frequently Asked Question documents
  • Parent brochure
  • Student/parent application portal
  • Hours of Instruction calculators
  • Statutes and rules
  • Data and reports

WCRIS strongly advises that schools and families complete and submit required forms and fees well before the stated deadlines each year to ensure that errors and questions can be resolved prior to the due dates.

Please note that the DPI will not mail or distribute packets with school registration material. Schools are responsible for obtaining the required forms and additional material needed from the DPI to participate in the PSCPs.