120 days to appoint new commissioner of turnaround program for failing schools after resignation

MILWAUKEE -- The Opportunity Schools Partnership Program, the state-mandated turnaround program for failing Milwaukee public schools is without a leader, and running out of time.

On Wednesday, June 29th, Dr. Demond Means, appointed commissioner of the OSPP announced his resignation.

This could mean a commissioner is not appointed in time for the 2016-2017 school year, and Republican lawmakers would go back to the drawing board.

The future of the state-mandated plan is unclear after Means' resignation.

In a statement, Means wrote that efforts to implement the law "will become increasingly adversarial at a time when adversity is the last thing our children need."

"Republicans need to take a look at this law and say, is this fair? Is this right?)" Ingrid Walker-Henry, secretary of the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association said.

Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association

MTEA officials called Means' resignation "a victory."

"I'm not sure what it means, but what I hope is that the people of Milwaukee have been heard," Walker-Henry said.

The new law instructed Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to appoint a commissioner with the authority to take over some failing MPS schools.

Abele said he "accepted with regret" Means' resignation. He now has 120 days to appoint a new commissioner.

Demond Means, Chris Abele

If he takes all of that time -- it would be late October, well after the 2016-2017 school year begins. It would mean a delay in implementation of the OSPP.

"I think he`ll find someone in the next 120 days, but the problem is, this is something they should work together with MPS on," Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) said.

Dale Kooyenga

Kooyenga co-authored the OSPP legislation.

"We`re not gonna let, be bossed around by a school system that doesn`t want to try something different," Kooyenga said.

Kooyenga called Means a leader who could have made a difference.

"Essentially the Milwaukee Public Schools status quo chewed him up and spit him out and said, 'no, we don't want to make changes,'" Kooyenga said.

Demond Means

MPS officials said they worked in good faith with Means, and said in a statement "we are surprised by today's news."

"I think the message to lawmakers is that, no matter what, the people of Milwaukee are gonna continue to fight for their children," Walker-Henry said.

Opponents say their problem wasn't with Means -- but the law as a whole. They said they want to maintain control of their schools.

Kooyenga says they're going back to the drawing board to decide where to go from here.