May 18, 2020
St. Maria Goretti School Files Suit Against The Madison Metropolitan School District To Enforce Its Right To School Transportation For The 2020-21 Term
On Friday, May 15, 2020, St. Maria Goretti Catholic School filed suit against the Madison Metropolitan School District in the Dane County Circuit Court to enforce its right to school transportation services from the District for the 2020–21 term. For that term, the District intends to provide busing to St. Maria Goretti’s students that drops them off at school 70 minutes after the school’s start time. The District’s actions have forced St. Maria Goretti into an untenable choice for the upcoming school year: it must substantially delay its start and end times, disrupting almost every aspect of the school, including its ability to hold morning Masses for its students and their families; or it must accept manifestly inadequate services that drops off its students well after the beginning of the day; or it must cover the cost of busing on its own, despite the substantial burdens that this would impose.
As St. Maria Goretti has argued to the Court, the District’s decision violates Chapter 121 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which requires the District to provide and fund transportation services to both public and private schools on the same, “reasonably uniform” basis. As one would expect, the District provides busing to its own public-school students that ensures that they arrive at school reasonably before the start of their school day. Indeed, the District has provided similar services to St. Maria Goretti since 1983 and through the current year. Yet, for the 2020–21 term, the District has now refused to provide these services to St. Maria Goretti. Wisconsin law does not tolerate that unequal, unjust treatment.
“We are not asking for special treatment for our students, but rather for equal treatment,” said Fr. Scott Emerson, parochial administrator of St. Maria Goretti Church and head of St. Maria Goretti School. “The District ensures that all of its students receive busing that allows them to arrive at school reasonably before the start of their school day. Why should St. Maria Goretti’s students be treated any differently? Indeed, so far as we are aware, St. Maria Goretti is the only school that the District has attempted to treat in this manner for the upcoming term,” Fr. Emerson said.
Kara and Mark, parents of three St. Maria Goretti students, provided the following quote in response to the District’s actions: “Delaying busing by 70 minutes—or removing it altogether—will cause a huge disruption, not only to our schedules as two parents who work outside of the home, but also to the incredible community that is St. Maria Goretti. This change has the potential of jeopardizing all we have done for decades to build the St. Maria Goretti community.”
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