The legislative plan to allow a takeover of a few Milwaukee Public Schools received a blow Wednesday when Demond Means resigned as the hand-picked leader of the program.
The Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP) would have allowed Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to take control of several low-performing schools. Abele appointed Means, the superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville district and an MPS graduate, to head the effort.
But opposition from the MPS Board proved to be too much, and Means stepped down Wednesday, citing the "adversarial" nature of the talks.
In his statement, Means said, "It is now clear to me that as implementation of the law moves forward, the environment is not conducive to collaborative partnerships — something essential for positive things to happen in Milwaukee."
MPS had suggested that, under the law, Abele and Means could open an early childhood center, but Abele and Means said that would be impossible because the law creating the OSPP included no funding.
MPS sent the following statement Wednesday afternoon in response to Means' resignation:
"We are surprised by today's news. We recognize Dr. Means' service to education and children in our area and agree that actions must be child-centered.
"MPS remains committed to and focused on the needs of students of the city of Milwaukee. We continue to build partnerships and work collaboratively with our school communities to provide academic opportunities and improve the academic performance for the children of our community.
"We are making progress as shown by a record-breaking $47.8 million in scholarships for the Class of 2016, our selection by the White House to participate in the Turnaround Arts program, the success of the 5-in-1 Collaborative and the growth of our Community Schools initiative."