School district sues WiscNet over alleged overcharges

A school district is suing the nonprofit Internet provider WiscNet for allegedly overcharging for services and violating a Department of Administration contract.

WiscNet, which provides Internet to most school districts and libraries, faced a major blow in 2013 after lawmakers required the UW System end its contract with WiscNet.

The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Thursday by the Waterford Union High School District, alleges WiscNet has “unlawfully raised prices for authorized users in an effort to recoup revenue” from the lost UW contract.

Along with other competitors, WiscNet has a contract with DOA that lets it use the state’s BadgerNet network to offer Internet to school districts, libraries and other educational institutions. Under the DOA contract, the Internet providers must charge fixed prices to the institutions.

The lawsuit, which is intended to become a class action lawsuit, says the district and any others in the class “were not aware of the terms of agreement” between DOA and WiscNet and therefore “paid these overcharges without knowledge.”

The district wants the court to certify it’s a class action lawsuit, with any institution that’s part of the DOA system being able to recoup the alleged overcharges.

A WiscNet spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, which represents WiscNet competitors, said the lawsuit outlines “extremely serious allegations.”

“If WiscNet overcharged school districts, they should be held accountable,” WSTA Executive Director Bill Esbeck said.

See the lawsuit

— By Polo Rocha,