Waukesha County Exec becomes new Lake Country Classical Academy authorizer

By: - January 24, 2023 1:25 pm
Screenshot from Hillsdale's 'Teaching for Virtue | K-12 Classical Education' video on the Lake Country Classical Academy website | YouTube

Screenshot from Hillsdale’s ‘Teaching for Virtue | K-12 Classical Education’ video on the Lake Country Classical Academy website | via YouTube

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow signed a letter of intent on Tuesday to authorize Lake Country Classical Academy, the Oconomowoc charter school affiliated with Hillsdale College that was formerly authorized by the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University (LCOOU)  in northern Wisconsin. 

Farrow formerly served as the state chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and as a Republican member of both the Wisconsin Assembly and state Senate.

In December 2021, the Examiner covered the launch of LCCA, Wisconsin’s first Hillsdale charter, under the supervision of the LCO Ojibwe University after the academy was repeatedly turned down by other charter authorizers: “How a Wisconsin tribe helped launch a Trump-approved Make America Great Again charter school.”

Using the Hillsdale curriculum, LCCA emphasizes the greatness of the United States’ Western European roots, “taught with an emphasis on the history and traditions of American citizens as the inheritors of Western civilization,” LCCA’s website explains.

The tribal university severed its ties with Lake Country Classical following reports of racist and derogatory comments made by Hillsdale College president, Larry Arnn. As a condition of continuing the relationship, the tribal university demanded that the school renounce Arnn’s comments. Other conditions imposed by the tribal university were that LCCA  “end its relationship with Hillsdale College, Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI), and any and all other Hillsdale affiliations by December 30, 2022.”

In addition, the university demanded that LCCA board members, administrators and teachers be “required to attend Ojibwe/indigenous cultural training with an LCOOU approved provider by December 6, 2022 and submit evidence to the University Board this requirement is met.”

Attorney Dan Lennington of the right-wing Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty tweeted a congratulatory message after Farrow agreed to authorize the school.

The Waukesha county executive is one of a handful of authorities that can authorize an independent charter school under Wisconsin law. Other independent charter school authorizers are the Milwaukee Common Council, University of Wisconsin System chancellors, technical college district boards, the College of Menominee Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University and the UW-System Office of Educational Opportunity.

Independent charter school authorizers must notify the state schools superintendent of their intention to “establish” a charter school by Feb. 1 of the year prior to the new school year. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction reported received a copy of the letter of intent from the Waukesha County Executive.

Lake Country Classical Academy Jan 2023


Update: This story was updated shortly after publication to indicate DPI had received the letter of intent and adding that document.

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Ruth Conniff
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine where she worked for many years from both Madison and Washington, DC. Shortly after Donald Trump took office she moved with her family to Oaxaca, Mexico, and covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Trump. Conniff is the author of "Milked: How an American Crisis Brought Together Midwestern Dairy Farmers and Mexican Workers" which won the 2022 Studs and Ida Terkel award from The New Press. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, CNN, Fox News and many other radio and television outlets. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and three daughters.