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Are inmates skewing Franklin graduation rate?

Patz hopes a change will make district more competitive

Oct. 3, 2012

Franklin - School Superintendent Steve Patz said he thinks those who are checking his high school's graduation rates through a Department of Public Instruction website will get the wrong picture.

It all stems from the fact that the DPI includes high school students housed at the Franklin-based Milwaukee County Correctional Facility-South.

"I don't think that's fair because we are compared to many other districts that don't have that situation," Patz said. "Those students are not, in my opinion, Franklin residents. They are there for various lengths of time while we educate them, but then they are gone."

Patz noted that those who leave may actually still be categorized as Franklin students, depending on the accuracy of their records. In that case, if they fail to graduate or drop out - even from another high school - it could still be counted against Franklin.

Even with the jailed students, Franklin has a graduation rate, reported by percentile, in the mid-90s. But to those people comparing the rate to other schools', it will seem low, Patz said.

Could affect district selection

"I know we are at about 99 percent, and if you compare what DPI reports to, say, another district ... that may influence which community and district people select," he said. "I also think that there are grants that we may not get based on a comparison of graduation rates, so it isn't just about attracting families."

Patz said he has been appealing to DPI to change the way the report is shown.

"I'm not looking for the corrections numbers to be eliminated," he said. "I just want to have them separated out so that people can see what we do in our school with and without that factor."

He has spoken to Mike Thompson, deputy superintendent of DPI, but nothing has been decided, Patz said. He hopes to elicit support from other districts with correctional institutions.

DPI viewpoint

Thompson did not return a phone call from NOW, and instead referred the matter to Patrick Gasper, a department spokesman.

"It looks like Franklin's graduation rates are pretty good," Gasper said. He noted that the district has received $450,000 this past year to provide instruction to the inmates.

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