Reactions Roll In as OSPP Commissioner Resigns

Dr. Demond Means, himself an MPS graduate, resigned on Wednesday amid controversy

MacIver News Service | June 29, 2016

[Milwaukee, Wis…] Dr. Demond Means, commissioner of the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program (OSPP), has resigned. He was appointed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele in November.

OSPP was passed into law as part of the 2015-17 state budget and called for up to five failing Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to become part of a special turnaround district.

In his resignation letter, Means writes that the atmosphere around education was part of the reason for his decision.

“Regrettably, it seems that in education, the focus on children gets lost, and conversations about policy and practice become more about the adults,” Means writes. “In a city with so many challenges, the focus must be squarely on our children and what we can do to ensure that their futures are bright.”

The program has made headlines in recent weeks after a series of missed deadlines. OSPP was supposed to designate the first wave of schools by May 25, but no schools have been named to date.

MPS was meant to announce whether or not they would partner with OSPP by June 23. That date also came and went, though MPS leadership met with Means and Abele and announced that they had not come to an agreement, but would continue talks. MPS put forth an alternate plan focused on early childhood education.

It was not immediately clear whether that plan would satisfy the law’s requirements, but the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty was adamant that if Means accepted the MPS counter-proposal, “the Commissioner of OSPP would satisfy none of the four obligations imposed upon him by Wisconsin law” and expose himself to the risk of legal action.

Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), co-author of the OSPP legislation, released the following statement:

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) released a statement focusing on her goals for OSPP. “Milwaukee needs leaders who will do the right thing. Milwaukee Public Schools have many quality schools, but more than 28,000 kids are trapped in schools that fail to meet expectation,” she said.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver made the following statement on behalf of MPS:


At the news of Means’ resignation, reactions rolled in from media and legislators on social media.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) stopped by WISN-12 to discuss Means’ resignation and said that if the MPS Board continues to fail to comply, MPS schools could see a “significant reduction in revenue” in the next budget or that the Board’s powers could be diminished.
“I wouldn’t take anything off the table when it comes to MPS,” Fitzgerald said. Watch the interview here.

This story will be updated as reactions come in.