Translating hope for recovery into a daily reality.

Unlike residential treatment programs, which may include educational services but primarily emphasize mental health recovery, recovery schools are traditional high schools (e.g. non-residential) that add substance abuse recovery support services into student’s daily lives. Recovery schools operate across the country, but Wisconsin currently has only one privately operated school – Horizon’s High in Madison.

For the purposes of the pilot funded by Wisconsin 2017 Act 30, a school must meet all of the following conditions to be eligible for authorization by the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO):

  • Be located anywhere in the state of Wisconsin.
  • Serve up to 15 high school students annually.
  • Provide coursework that meets Wisconsin diploma requirements, as well as provide recovery support services.
  • Charge no admission for students attending the school.
  • Not determine admission based on insurance coverage for substance abuse recovery because admission to and ongoing enrollment in the school may only be limited by three factors: (1) a student being sober for at least 30 days prior to admission; (2) an ongoing commitment to recovery; and (3) consent to random drug testing.

Additional information on the school will be provided in Technical Assistance Sessions upon request.

Recovery School Application

To apply, email your completed application to Cynthia Gonzalez, Director of the Office of Educational Opportunity.

Selection Process

Recovery School applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until a school is selected and contract negotiations are finalized.

Responses will be scored by the Recovery School Selection Committee, which is composed of the following members:

  • Cynthia Gonzalez, Office of Educational Opportunity
  • Vacant, Office of Academic and Student Affairs, UW System
  • Jenny Malcore, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • Skye Tikkakan, Connections Counseling
  • Adrienne Wood, UW-Milwaukee Charter Office Director

Committee members will use the Recovery School Response Reviewer Guide pdf  to score responses and make a recommendation for either authorization of a school or rejection of an application.

A majority of committee members must recommend authorization for the Director to consider entering into contract negotiations for authorization.  A recommendation for authorization from the committee is not binding on the Director, but he may not revive a proposal rejected by a majority of the selection committee.

If the Director agrees with a recommendation for authorization, contract negotiations will commence.


After nearly unanimous support from the Wisconsin State Legislature, 2017 Wisconsin Act 30 directs the Office of Educational Opportunity (OEO) to solicit applications for a pilot substance abuse recovery high school.

In response to this legislative opportunity, OEO drafted a Recovery School Request for Proposals (RFP).

The Recovery School RFP was drafted based on guidance from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers best practices, resources from the Association of Recovery Schools, and input from a drafting committee composed of representatives from traditional school districts, public charter schools, recovery school experts, recovery community advocates, public health officials, and elected officials from both major political parties.

OEO issued the Recovery School RFP on August 2, 2017, in order to authorize a school needed by students, families, and communities across Wisconsin.

The first application submission period was August 2, 2017, through December 2, 2017.

Success Defined

The state-funded pilot will operate for four years. If the school is successfully operating, then it is the OEO’s intention to spin the pilot school out from our portfolio to be directly managed by a traditional public school district, a consortium of school districts via contracts or a CESA, a local unit of government, or a private operator. Applicants are strongly encouraged to strategically partner in order to use the pilot as an incubator for a school that will operate independently of OEO as additional legislative approval would be required for continued management by OEO in year five and beyond.

If a successful school is incubated, then in keeping with the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea, OEO will provide technical assistance and support to individuals and organizations who want to create recovery school opportunities in their communities.