DOE, DOJ Guidance Letter on Transgender Students

By John Forester | May 23, 2016

From the Legal Side…

The Strang Patteson Law Firm has recently published this Legal Update that discusses the Departments of Education and Justice guidance letter on transgender students.  The guidance letter was released on Friday, May 13.  The SAA regularly receives these legal updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Strang Patteson.

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History of School Referenda

By John Forester | May 23, 2016

From The Wheeler Report:

Check out this interesting data on school referenda from 1987 to the present assembled by The Wheeler Report.  Please note, this table includes data on school districts utilizing the energy efficiency exemption, even though a referendum is not required.

HISTORY OF SCHOOL REFEREDUM 1987-CURRENT

School referendum are governed by Wis. Stat. § 121.91(3). In 2009, school districts were granted the ability to exempt energy efficiency expenditures from state revenue limits. When holding a referendum, a school board must pass a resolution calling for the proposed borrowing.  Once the resolution is adopted by the school board, the referendum must be held within 70 days of the passage of the resolution, and the school district must publish a notice on the fourth Tuesday before the referendum. The district must notify DPI within 10 days of the adoption of the resolution.

Administration
Thompson
1/87 – 2/01
McCallum
2/01 – 1/03
Doyle
1/03 – 1/11
Walker
1/11 – present
Total
Passed
Non-Recurring
38
27
162
158
385
Recurring
59
22
59
30
170
Energy Efficiencies
0
0
60
326
386
Debt
609
59
202
153
1,023
Failed
 
 
 
 
 
Non-Recurring
41
26
133
59
259
Recurring
113
51
110
17
291
Energy Efficiencies
0
0
0
0
0
Debt
468
83
191
96
838
Canceled
 
 
 
 
 
Non-Recurring
0
1
3
2
6
Recurring
0
2
0
0
2
Energy Efficiencies
0
0
0
0
0
Debt
0
0
2
1
3
Total
1,328
271
922
842
3,363

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US Department of Labor Issues FLSA Regs

By John Forester | May 23, 2016

From the Legal Side…

The Boardman & Clark law firm recently published this School Law Update.  On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor (Department) announced that it will publish a final rule to update regulations (final regulations) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The final regulations will take effect on December 1, 2016. Because of this impending deadline, school districts will want to take immediate action to comply with the final regulations. This article will briefly summarize the changes to the FLSA regulations made by the final rule and discuss the impact on school positions.

The SAA regularly receives these updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Boardman & Clark.

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Feds Investigate Baraboo Private School

By John Forester | May 20, 2016

St. John’s Lutheran School in Baraboo is under federal investigation following a complaint over its policy toward LGBT students, officials confirmed Thursday.  Check out the news story from WISC-TV, Madison.

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Holmes Announces Run for State Superintendent

By John Forester | May 18, 2016

Ending months of speculation, Germantown Superintendent Jeff Holmes announces his candidacy for Wisconsin State Superintendent.  Check out the news story in the local Germantown newspaper.

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GPR Tax Collections in Line With Projections

By John Forester | May 18, 2016

From WisPolitics.com …

Overall GPR tax collections through the end of April are in line with projections, according to the Department of Revenue.

Still, LFB Director Bob Lang said sales and corporate tax collections need to be watched, along with the impact of changes to the withholding tables.

The Department of Revenue reported yesterday afternoon adjusted general purpose revenue tax collections were up 4.5 percent through the end of April compared to the same period a year earlier. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau in January projected fund general fund tax collections in 2015-16 would come in 4.4 percent ahead of the year before.

Still, sales taxes were up just 1.3 percent in April compared to the month before, while corporate income taxes dropped 9.3 percent. For the first 10 months of the fiscal year, sales taxes are up 3 percent and corporate taxes are down 0.1 percent.

The change in withholding tables that Republicans pushed through in 2014 affect the refunds state taxpayers get. Lang said that is another thing to watch.

Earlier this month, the Walker administration put off repaying $101 million in commercial paper, giving it more room in the current budget but adding to the state’s long-term debt.

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DPI, SAA Prevail in Coyne v. Walker

By John Forester | May 18, 2016

You might recaIl that, in a “Friend of the Court” brief filed with the State Supreme Court last October, the School Administrators Alliance (SAA) and the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) requested that the Court hold 2011 Wisconsin Act 21 unconstitutional and affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals in Coyne v. Walker.

WASB and SAA were joined in this important endeavor by the Wisconsin Retired Educators’ Association (WREA), the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA), the Southeast Wisconsin Schools Alliance (SWSA), Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), Wisconsin PTA, and Professor Julie Underwood.

Our attorneys are currently analyzing the decision.  More information will follow.

From WisPolitics.com …

A split state Supreme Court today nixed giving the guv oversight of DPI administrative rules.

Republicans approved Act 21 to give the guv’s office more input on the administrative rules written by state agencies.

But Justice Michael Gableman, writing for a 4-3 majority, found the law improperly gave the guv and DOA secretary oversight of the state schools superintendent and DPI. Gableman wrote that’s because the superintendent and agency don’t have a process to proceed with rulemaking if the guv and DOA secretary withhold approval.

Gableman noted the Wisconsin Constitution gave the Legislature broad discretion to define the powers and duties of the superintendent and other offices of public instruction. But it also requires the “Legislature to keep the supervision of public instruction in the hands of the officers of supervision of public instruction.” Act 21 improperly gives the guv and in some instances the DOA secretary supervision of public instruction, he said.

“Thus, Act 21 unconstitutionally vests the supervision of public instruction in officers who are not officers of supervision of public instruction,” Gableman wrote.

Justices Shirley Abrahamson, Ann Walsh Bradley and David Prosser concurred with Gableman.

It’s the third court win for those opposed to the law. A Dane County court and a court of appeals reached similar conclusions.

Chief Justice Pat Roggensack dissented, arguing the rules process is a legislative authority granted to the superintendent, not a constitutional one, and the Legislature has the oversight of that process. Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler joined the dissent.

Read the decision here.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel News Story

Wisconsin State Journal News Story

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2016-17 Parental Choice Options Funding

By John Forester | May 9, 2016

DPI has created a new document to explain how the existing and newly created parental choice options will be funded in 2016-17.  These options include open enrollment, private school vouchers for regular and special education, and independent charter schools.

Access the document directly here.

If you have questions, please contact Bob Soldner at robert.soldner@dpi.wi.gov or 608-266-6968.

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US Warns North Carolina on Transgender Bathroom Law

By John Forester | May 5, 2016

As reported in the New York Times and other national media outlets, the Justice Department warned the State of North Carolina on Wednesday that its new law limiting bathroom access violated the civil rights of transgender people, a finding that could mean millions of dollars in lost federal funds.

This is an interesting development for us, given that the proponents of similar legislation in Wisconsin have promised to resurrect the bill next legislative session.

See the New York Times story here.

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Legislative Council Study Committees Approved

By John Forester | May 5, 2016

From The Wheeler Report . . .

The 2016 interim study committees have been approved.  Committee chairs and vice-chairs are also assigned.

Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services:

Rep. Horlacher Chair, Sen. Stroebel Vice-Chair

Study Committee on the Preservation of Burial Sites:

Rep. Loudenbeck Chair, Rep. R. Brooks Vice-Chair

Study Committee on Publication of Government Documents and Legal Notices:

Rep. Spiros Chair, Sen. Miller Vice-Chair.

Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment:

Sen. Darling Chair, Rep. Hutton Vice-Chair.

Study Committee on Rural Broadband:

Sen. Marklein Chair, Rep. Quinn Vice-Chair.

Study Committee on School Data:

Rep Thiesfeldt Chair, Sen. LeMahieu Vice-Chair.

Study Committee on Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Shortages:

Sen. Nass Chair, Rep. Kremer Vice-Chair.

Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations:

Rep. Mursau Chair, Sen. Vinehout Vice-Chair.

Stay tuned…more information to follow on these study committees.

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