Accrediting body for "fly by night" voucher school wants to approve more Wisconsin choice schools

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee voucher school closed in the dead of night two years ago. Now, the organization that was supposed to be overseeing that school wants to accredit even more choice schools here in Wisconsin.

"This is a simple bill," said State Representative Terry Katsma, (R - Oostburg).

A simple bill on a complicated topic.

"AB602 merely adds Christian Schools International (CIS) as an accrediting agency for choice schools," said Katsma. 

In Wisconsin, choice schools have to be accredited. In other words, they need to prove they're quality schools. Who gives that approval can be just as important.

Before 2012, Christian Schools International was able to give that approval -- and now they want to be able to do it again.

"Why CSI? When I look at their record of schools currently accredited by CSI I would have to say it's fairly abysmal," said State Representative Sondy Pope, (D - Cross Plains).

"The record that they have is a positive record," said Katsma.

Christian Schools International accredits highly regarded schools like Sheboygan Christian, and has also accredited schools with questionable reputations.

"More Than Conquerors, Kings Academy, Whole Village Institute, Crosstrainers Academy -- all pretty sketchy stuff," said Pope.

In December 2013, Lifeskills Academy, which had received the stamp of approval from CIS, suddenly shut down taking $200,000 of taxpayer money with it and leaving 66 students behind.

Lifeskills Academy

"It looks fly by night but we weren't part of that," said Bob Van Wieren, Christian Schools International.

"Do you understand the concern that a lot of constituents have, specifically in Milwaukee County have, when we've had some of these fly by night institution?" asked FOX6 Investigator Meghan Dwyer.

"Well of course. A lot of that we didn't know, I mean Lifeskills Academy disappeared all of a sudden. We didn't know that they were going to be disappearing all of a sudden," said Wieren.

It's what else they may not know about some of these accredited schools that has Democrats worried.

"We have a partnership also with AdvancED," said Wieren.

AdvancED accredited Daughters of the Father Christian Academy, which shut down earlier this year, it's accreditation application was riddled with grammatical errors like, "The neighborhood does not have alot of monies and the children needs help."

But the school still got the stamp of approval.

"I can't speak to what AdvancED is doing," said Wieren. 

Christian Schools International says before Lifeskills Academy shut down, they were in the process of holding the school accountable for its low test scores.

When Lifeskills Academy left Wisconsin, they headed to Florida to open a new school there.

Christian Schools International testified they had no idea.