By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Jill Underly, candidate for state superintendent of education, has exhibited her resistance to and ignorance of Wisconsin’s school choice program over the course of the campaign.
Now emails obtained by Empower Wisconsin show the teachers union-backed candidate looking to block an open enrollment application out of the district because it “wasn’t the right step” for the student.
“If we can deny this application, when the time comes, I would like to deny it. Is that an option?” Underly, administrator of the Pecatonica School District wrote in an email sent on April 20, 2020.
Underly’s email was sent to district official Marlene Flannery, who responded, “Can only hope they don’t follow through with it.”
In another email on the same day, Flannery sent Underly information from the Department of Public Instruction on open enrollment applications.
“A resident school district may deny open enrollment if an application form is incomplete, inaccurate or not timely,” Flannery quoted from the DPI Frequently Asked Questions page.
The student’s name and other information are redacted in the emails.
Reached Monday afternoon, Flannery told Empower Wisconsin the student was leaving the school system “and we didn’t feel that it would be a good step for her.” She could not speak to the circumstances and referred Empower Wisconsin to Underly for further details.
Underly did not return an email Monday seeking comment.
Her campaign page notes, As Pecatonica’s chief learning officer, administrator, and business manager, “Underly led initiatives to mitigate the open enrollment problems that plague rural school districts.”
She faces off today against former Brown Deer Schools Superintendent Deb Kerr in the statewide election for state superintendent of Public Instruction.