Waiver and Alternative Compliance Information


Under Wis. Stats. s. 118.38 Waivers of laws and rules. (1) (a) A school board may request the department to waive any school board or school district requirement in chs. 115 to 121 or in the administrative rules promulgated by the department under the authority of those chapters, except for statutes or rules related to any of the following:

  1. The health or safety of pupils.
  2. Pupil discrimination under s. 118.13.
  3. The pupil assessment program under s. 118.30 and the standardized reading test required under s. 121.02(1) (r ).
  4. Pupil records under s. 118.125.
  5. The collection of data by the department.
  6. The uniform financial fund accounting system under ss. 115.28(13) and 115.30(1) and audits of school district accounts under s. 120.14.
  7. Licensure or certification under s. 115.28(7) or (7m) other than the licensure of the school district administrator or business manager.

In addition, the following criteria from the statute, 118.38 Waivers of laws and rules will be applied:

(b) Before requesting a waiver, the school board shall hold a public hearing in the school district on the request.

(1m) The school board shall specify in its request for a waiver the reason for requesting the waiver.

What are the primary steps in the process of requesting a waiver? What information must be provided?

  • The district must provide an opportunity for the community to offer input regarding the proposed waiver. The opportunity may be provided in conjunction with a regular school board meeting but must be publicized well in advance.
  • Waiver requests from school districts must be made by letter and signed by the district administrator and/or the president of the school board.
  • The request must include a description of the response of the community to the proposed waiver as indicated by a record of the public hearing held in the district.
  • School board minutes showing board action endorsing the request for waiver and the board's adoption of the ratified calendars covered by the waiver.

A waiver is effective for four years. The department shall renew the waiver for additional four-year periods if the school board has evaluated and reported to the department the educational and financial effects of the waiver over the previous four-year period, except that the department is not required to renew a waiver if the department determines that the school district is not making adequate progress toward improving pupil academic performance. For renewal, elements of the original waiver must continue to be met.

Districts that wish to enhance professional development programs may apply for waiver of an instructional day or days.

These requests for waiver will be reviewed for approval using the following criteria:

  • The waived days of instruction must be replaced with days of locally planned, locally hosted professional learning opportunities held during the school term as defined in s. 115.001(12), Wis. Stats.
  • The professional learning is based on specific needs of the district's student population.
  • The professional learning is designed to enhance the education goals and improvement plan of the district.
  • Data regarding the effectiveness of the professional learning will be gathered by the district in order to plan subsequent learning opportunities and to provide documentation for possible waiver renewals.

Additional information requested includes:

  • The mutually agreed upon calendars for the years of the waiver showing all professional learning opportunities, vacations, holidays, early dismissals, late starts, and dates and times of parent-teacher conferences.
  • Daily schedules for each building that include warning bell, starting and dismissal times as well as lunch and recess times.

Waiver approval depends, in part, on the district's meeting the minimum requirement for days and hours of instruction at each level (see link below). Click on the worksheet found below to begin to calculate your district's hours of instruction.

Days and Hours of Instruction--The Law
Worksheet to Compute Days and Hours of Instruction per Wisconsin Statute 121.02(1)(f)

Commencement of School Term (School Start Date) Information


Alternative Compliance

PI 8.01(3) Alternative Compliance. (a) A school district board may request that the state superintendent approve a plan for alternative compliance with any of the school district standards under sub. (2). A school district requesting approval of alternative compliance under this subsection shall submit a written request to the state superintendent by September 1, if the alternative compliance plan is to be implemented during the spring semester, by March 1, if the alternative compliance plan is to be implemented during the fall semester. The request shall include all of the following information, as appropriate:

  1. The school district standard addressed by the alternative compliance plan.
  2. The means by which the alternative compliance plan addresses the objectives of the school district standard including all of the following information:

(a) The program objectives and anticipated outcomes of the alternative compliance plan.
(b) The rationale and research or other information supporting the alternative compliance plan.
(c) The staffing patterns which may be affected by the alternative compliance plan.
(d) The number of students by grade level to be affected by the alternative compliance plan.
(e) Any needed staff development to support the alternative compliance plan.
(f) Timelines for implementation of the alternative compliance plan.
(g) A description of how the alternative compliance will be evaluated, including a description of how progress toward meeting program objectives and anticipated outcomes identified under subd. 2. a. will be monitored and measured at regular intervals and at the conclusion of the year for which the plan is approved.
(b) 1. The state superintendent may approve a school district board's plan for alternative compliance with a school district standard, if he or she determines the alternative compliance plan will meet the objectives of the school district standard, maintains educational equity and will result in any of the following:
a. Improved efficiency in school administration of instruction.
b. Innovation in school district management or instruction, including but not limited to, progress towards outcome-based instruction and assessment; enhancement of educational opportunities; enhancement of education professions; and flexibility in staffing, programming and scheduling.
c. Other educational improvements.
2. The plan approved under subd. 1. May be subject to conditions specified by the state superintendent.
3. The state superintendent shall provide for the review of the requests for alternative compliance plans made under par. (a) and shall notify the school board of his or her decision within 60 days from the date the request is received. The decision shall be in writing and shall include the reasons for the decision.
4. The state superintendent may either hold a public hearing or request that the school district board hold a public hearing on the alternative compliance being proposed.
(c) 1. An initial alternative compliance plan may be approved for a 2 year period.
2. An alternative compliance plan may be renewed every 3 years after the initial plan approval only if an evaluation of the alternative compliance plan is provided by the school district board and is approved by the state superintendent.
3. The evaluation shall include information specified in par. (a) 2. G. and is subject to the same timelines specified under par. (a).

For questions about this information, contact Beverly Kniess (608) 266-3706