Milwaukee voucher school disappears after getting $2 million in taxpayer money

By David Edwards
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 12:20 EDT
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A classroom. Photo: Shutterstock.com.
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A voucher-funded Milwaukee school that had gotten more than $2 million in taxpayer money disappeared “in the dead of the night” last month, its former landlord said this week.

According to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, state officials confirmed that LifeSkills Academy had already received over $200,000 as a part of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program this year before vacating the premises around Dec. 12.

“They moved out, as people say, in the dead of the night,” All Saints Catholic Church’s Father Carl Diederichs explained to the paper. LifeSkills had rented a building owned by the church.

Department of Public Instruction (DPI) documents obtained by The Journal-Sentinel indicated that LifeSkills had been paid $202,278 in taxpayer money this year and $202,278 in voucher payments for the 2012-2013 school year. Since joining the voucher program in 2008, the school had received over $2 million in payments.

But during the last full school year, only one of LifeSkill’s students managed to score as proficient in reading and math.

The motto advertised on LifeSkills’ now-shuttered website is “1 Awesome God / 2 Great Schools.”

“We pledge, To lead students into a genuine relationship with Christ while providing an excellent academic program,” the website said. “To this, we will strive to continue…”

After a series of confusing email messages in December, the school told DPI that it would be closing due to a “loss of funding.” However, DPI informed LifeSkills in a letter that no decision had been made to withhold funds.

By Dec. 12, Father Diederichs notified DPI that the LifeSkills building had been vacated.

The Journal-Sentinel pointed out that there was no legal way for DPI to recoup the voucher funds paid to LifeSkills.

[A classroom. Photo: Shutterstock.com.]

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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