Parent advocates for public schools file request for Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Kooyenga’s communications

WAUWATOSA, WI, June 16, 2015 – SOS Wauwatosa – a nonpartisan group of public school parents and supporters from Wauwatosa, the home of Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Leah Vukmir, is filing an open records request to gain access to communications sent or received by State Sen. Vukmir and State Representative Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield between the dates of April 1 and May 31, 2015.

The group seeks to reveal the massive number of pro-public-school-funding emails, letters and phone calls made to both legislators.

“We don’t know who our legislators are listening to, but we can assure you that it is not public school parents,” said Elizabeth Heimerl, SOS Wauwatosa Treasurer and Wauwatosa mom. “Parents and taxpayers want legislators to fully-fund accountable public schools, not unaccountable private voucher schools, and we’re certain that our open records request will yet again prove this point.”

SOS Wauwatosa also hopes the open records request will help parents better understand why Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Kooyenga, who represent Wauwatosa, are choosing to siphon millions and millions of dollars in funding away from public schools to private schools, which do not perform better than public schools and are not accountable to taxpayers.

On Friday, SOS Wauwatosa unveiled a 4-minute video explaining how the proposed private voucher school expansion would hurt Wauwatosa’s kids and public schools: https://www.facebook.com/soswauwatosa/videos/801316596642895/

“Three in four voucher school applicants are already attending Wisconsin private schools, not public schools, so it’s clear that this voucher expansion is a foolish and expensive taxpayer handout to private schools,” says Heimerl. “Parents are fearful about private school voucher expansion for three reasons: it siphons money away from our kids’ public schools, private schools are entirely unaccountable to taxpayers, and no study whatsoever shows voucher school students perform better than public school students. If private voucher schools didn’t siphon money away from public schools, were accountable to taxpayers and out-performed our public schools, parents would be supportive – but the data shows the opposite. Private voucher students in Wisconsin have never – not one time – performed better than public school students on standardized tests. While we understand the ‘let’s try anything’ sentiments of some, this expansion of private voucher schools will do significant harm to all kids in all Wisconsin schools.”

On May 20, 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that 75% of eligible students who applied for taxpayer-funded subsidies to attend private and religious schools in 2014 already attended private schools (http://www.jsonline.com/news/education/75-of-state-voucher-program-applicants-already-attend-private-school-b99274333z1-259980701.html).

In April 2014, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that private voucher student performance again lagged public school performance on standardized tests (http://jsonline.com/news/education/voucher-students-post-gain-in-math-reading-still-lag-public-schools-b99243092z1-254382141.html).

Open Records Request from SOS Wauwatosa to Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Kooyenga

“This correspondence is to request access for review of the following records, under the state’s Open Records Law (§§19.31-39, Wisconsin Statutes): any and all correspondence sent and/or received, and records created or received, referred to, discussed or otherwise relied upon by Senator Leah Vukmir / Rep. Dale Kooyenha or her / his staff, between and including April 1, 2015 to and including May 31, 2015. Per Wisconsin Statutes (§§19.34(2) and 19.35(2)) please respond with the location and times these records will be available for our review.

Please be aware that the Open Records law defines “record” to include information that is maintained on paper as well as electronically, such as data files and unprinted emails. Wis. Stat. § 19.32(2).

Please also be aware that the Open Records law “shall be construed in every instance with the presumption of complete public access consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of access generally is contrary to the public interest and only in exceptional cases can access be denied.” If you deny my request, the law requires you to do so in writing and state what part of the law you believe entitles you to deny my request. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a).

The Open Records law states that you may charge for “the actual, necessary and direct cost” of locating records, if this exceeds $50, and for photocopies. The Wisconsin Department of Justice advises that copying fees under the Open Records law should be “around 15 cents per page and that anything in excess of 25 cents may be suspect.” As I am specifically requesting access for review without necessity of printing by you or your office, it is expected that no charge will be required or assessed. Please advise me before processing this request if the total cost will exceed $50.

As you know, the law requires you to respond to this request “as soon as practicable and without delay.”

Per Wis. Stat. §19.33, you are the authority with the responsibility of responding as legal custodian of these records for this request. Please let me know if I can clarify or refine this request.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your timely response.”

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Support Our Schools (SOS) Wauwatosa is a grassroots group of greatly concerned nonpartisan Wauwatosa moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, business leaders, and residents who believe in Wauwatosa public schools. To learn more, visit http://soswauwatosa.wordpress.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/soswauwatosa.

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