By Princess Safiya Byers Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service Published Jun 10, 2024 at 5:01 PM

The Department of Public Instruction on Thursday said it is withholding a $16.6 million payment to MPS for special education services because of missing financial data.

This news comes only days after Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Keith Posley resigned in the wake of the financial scandal that could jeopardize millions of dollars in state aid.

In a news release, the Department of Public Instruction said it will continue to work with MPS on a plan to get payments released. 

Posley’s decision to resign followed a public meeting last Monday night where parents, teachers and community stakeholders shared frustration and concerns about the superintendent and the board’s ability to lead effectively.

The MPS board voted unanimously to accept Posley’s resignation after a closed session that lasted until about 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The resignation is effective June 30, according to a statement from the school board.

Here's what you need to know

MPS has had multiple issues come to light in the past month.

Federal officials suspended funding to Head Start sites on May 21 after the district failed to correct safety issues for students. The suspension is effective for 30 days.

MPS faces the possibility of losing federal funds for Head Start if it doesn’t make further corrections. 

State officials threatened to suspend general funding to MPS schools because the district failed to file financial reports due last year, including the annual audit.

MPS board President Marva Herndon told reporters Wednesday that the district has submitted missing financial data and a corrective action plan to the Department of Public Instruction, and is waiting for the department to review the documents. 

“Next week we will meet with our auditors to determine next steps in certification of the district’s annual audit,” Herndon said. “As this work is being completed, the district is ensuring these issues do not happen again.”

Community members told the board that if Posley kept his position, they would continue to urge the board to remove him and come for their positions, too. 

“I have to listen to the people and what I’m hearing them say is that they don’t trust the superintendent,” community activist and radio host Tory Lowe told the board. “And if he stays, these same people will ensure you all lose your positions as well.” 

The community-based Equity Coalition, which includes the Black Educators Caucus MKE, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, Education Task Force and Aspiring Anti-Racist White Educators, has put out a list of demands for the school board. 

The demands include a review of the MPS administrative leadership team and establishing a community coalition to assist in the hiring process of the new superintendent. 

What’s next?

The board will have to select a new superintendent.

Board members said they are looking for an interim superintendent and once the interim is in place, they will conduct a national search for a permanent superintendent. 

The district’s Office of Accountability and Efficiency has hired a new financial consultant, Todd Gray, to help ensure the district files the financial reports that are due. 

The district also has to find a new comptroller after Alfredo Balmaseda, who was comptroller, told the Journal Sentinel that he was fired. 

Questions yet to be answered

When will the audit be completed? 

Board members told the media on Wednesday that they are working on the audit and will give updates to the public as soon as they have the information. 

Will this affect the recently passed referendum? 

It doesn’t seem likely. Board members said the referendum is a separate issue from the ones they are facing now and that the district is still in need of the funds the referendum will provide.

For more information

You can keep up with MPS and follow board meetings here.