GOP-backed bill would have allowed unlicensed individuals with no background check to interact directly with kids at school

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today vetoed a Republican-backed bill that would have allowed individuals with no license, no education, no training, no experience, no specific skillsets, no qualifications, and no background check to become school district administrators and have direct contact with kids at school.

Under current law, with very limited exception, every school district administrator in Wisconsin must hold an administrator license issued by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a license requiring the holder to maintain other licensure, have six semesters of teaching or pupil services experience—including over 540 hours of classroom teaching—and complete an educator preparatory program specialist degree or doctoral degree. The GOP-backed bill, Senate Bill 335, would have effectively eliminated all such requirements, enabling individuals who, for example, did not have to undergo a standard background check to have direct contact with kids in schools across Wisconsin. Lists of Republican lawmakers who voted to pass the bill are available here and here.

Gov. Evers, who spent most of his career in education as a former educator, principal, superintendent, and state superintendent prior to becoming governor, blasted the proposal.

“This concept is a non-starter,” said Gov. Evers. “We maintain high standards for education professionals for good reason: Wisconsinites entrust school district administrators with the important responsibilities of leading our local school districts and educating our kids. As a governor who is a father and grandfather and former educator, principal, superintendent, and state superintendent, I cannot sign a bill that could have us entrust one of our most precious responsibilities to any given individual whose only qualification is a mere passing interest in education.

“I object to allowing any individual who has no license, no education, no training, no experience, no specific skillsets, and virtually no qualifications whatsoever to not only become a school district administrator but to come into everyday contact with kids in our schools.

“What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. We have a constitutional obligation to provide public education, and Wisconsinites expect our kids to be educated and taught by the best, brightest, and most qualified people. Our kids deserve nothing less,” Gov. Evers concluded.

A copy of the governor’s veto message is available here.


An online version of this release is available here.

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