Voucher schools around the country are proving to be an epic failure and are leaving students and their parents stranded with little or no warning.
A private Milwaukee high school run by a voucher-school operator that's come under scrutiny this year has been barred from receiving more taxpayer money, state documents show.
And now Travis Technology High School on Milwaukee's north side has closed, forcing about 200 teenagers, almost all of whom attended on a taxpayer-paid voucher, to find different schools to attend when winter break ends.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on Dec. 22 barred the high school from participating in the Milwaukee voucher program because it failed to obtain a special bond this month that was part of an agreement the school's operators signed with the state in October.
On Monday, a receptionist at Travis Tech confirmed the school was no longer operating.
Travis Tech, 8350 N. Steven Road, had 179 children enrolled as of fall 2014, according to state enrollment figures. The high school is one of two voucher schools run by Ceria M. Travis Academy Inc. The other is Ceria M. Travis Academy, 4744 N. 39th St., a much larger school with 437 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to state enrollment figures.
The nonprofit running the schools is headed by CEO Dorothy Travis Moore and her daughter, Executive Director Wilnekia Brinson.
Both are paid six-figure compensation packages, according to their organization's federal tax filings. Meanwhile, current and former employees have complained to the state and to the Journal Sentinel of lacking textbooks and other adequate classroom materials and resources to help children learn.
They also complained that Travis Moore has regularly employed teachers without bachelor's degrees — the state requires teachers at voucher schools to have degrees — while employing family members with dubious job titles and responsibilities.
Travis Moore and Brinson did not return calls for comment for this article. In previous interviews, they confirmed a handful of family members were employed but declined to produce a full roster of staff members' names, job titles and salaries.
Yeah, it sucks for those kids and their parents that have to find a new school by Monday but hey, at least the owner of the voucher school and her family got paid well, which surely will help them sleep at night:
Federal nonprofit tax filings list the individual compensation for Travis Moore and Brinson, whose total compensation packages totaled $213,000 and $118,000 respectively, in 2012, according to those federal documents.
Brinson said five family members are employed at the organization, which has 67 employees. Travis Moore confirmed that Brinson's husband, Robert Brinson, works for the organization in a student support and security role.
They declined to disclose other family members' job titles and salaries.
A video from a celebratory dinner for the organization at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2011 revealed that Travis Moore's son worked for the organization, as well.
Over the years, the Travis family has raked in $35 million even though only 2% of their students can read at grade level and only 3% can do math at grade level.
I can't wait for the rousing success the entire state will see in 2015 when Scott Walker and the Teapublicans make the voucher system a statewide program.
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