What is so unusual (and great!) about Wisconsin homeschooling law?
Full legal standing and complete parental control!
(Read the full article here)
Wisconsin Laws Relating to Home-Based Private Education Programs (Homeschools)
WI Act 512 (1983)
Please read the WPA history section for more information about how this law came to be.
Each year when homeschoolers in Wisconsin file the PI-1206 to inform the Department of Public Instruction that they are homeschooling, they are signing a legal affidavit stating that they will comply with Wisconsin Homeschooling Law. Make sure you have read the law.
Definition of a Home-Based Private Education Program – WI statute 115.001(3g)
“‘Home-based private educational program’ means a program of educational instruction provided to a child by the child’s parent or guardian or by a person designated by the parent or guardian. An instructional program provided to more than one family unit does not constitute a home-based private educational program.” (WI stat 115.001(3g))
Private Schools – WI statute 118.165
“An institution is a private school if its educational program meets all of the following criteria:
(a)The primary purpose of the program is to provide private or religious-based education.
(b)The program is privately controlled.
(c) The program provides at least 875 hours of instruction each school year.
(d) The program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health. This subsection does not require the program to include in its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice in conflict with the program’s religious doctrines or to exclude from its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice consistent with the program’s religious doctrines.
(e) The program is not operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory school attendance requirement under s. 118.15 (1) (a) and (am).
(f) The pupils in the institution’s educational program, in the ordinary course of events,return annually to the homes of their parents or guardians for not less than 2 months of summer vacation, or the institution is licensed as a child welfare agency under s. 48.60(1).” (WI stat 118.165)
Compulsory Attendance – WI statute 118.15
“(1)(a) Except as provided under pars. (b) to (d) and (g) and sub. (4), unless the child is excused under sub. (3) or has graduated from high school, any person having under control a child who is between the ages of 6 and 18 years shall cause the child to attend school regularly during the full period and hours, religious holidays excepted, that the public, private, or tribal school in which the child should be enrolled is in session until the end of the school term, quarter, or semester of the school year in which the child becomes 18 years of age.” (WI stat 118.15(1)(a))
“(4) Instruction in a home-based private education program that meets all of the criteria under s.118.165 (1) may be substituted for attendance at a public or private school.” (WI stat 118.15(4))
Forms and Reports – WI statute 115.30 (3)
“On or before each October 15, each administrator of a public or private school system or a home-based private educational program shall submit, on forms provided by the department, a statement of the enrollment on the 3rd Friday in September in the elementary and high school grades under his or her jurisdiction to the department which shall prepare such reports as will enable the public and private schools and home-based private educational programs to make projections regarding school buildings, teacher supply and funds required. The administrator of each private school system and home-based private educational program shall indicate in his or her report whether the system or program meets all of the criteria under s. 118.165 (1).” (WI stat 115.30(3))
Kindergarten – 2009 WI Act 41
If you are homeschooling for kindergarten and planning to place your child in a public school for first grade, you should contact your local school and ask for their written policy concerning entrance to first grade for homeschoolers. 2009 WI Act 41, passed in 2009 requires children who attend a public school for first grade to have completed a kindergarten program. Since compulsory attendance begins at age 6, you cannot file a PI-1206 form until your child turns 6 on or before September 1st of the current school year. In other words you cannot “prove” you were homeschooling for kindergarten because you cannot fill out the legal homeschooling paperwork until your child is age 6 on or before September 1st of the current school year.
The legislation requires that each school board, “shall establish procedures, conditions, and standards for exempting a child from the requirement that the child complete kindergarten as a prerequisite to enrollment in the first grade.” (WI stat 2009 WI Act 41 Sect 5)
So if you are planning to homeschool for kindergarten, but then send your child to public school for first grade, contact your local school district and ask for a copy of their written policy.
If you are planning to continue homeschooling for first grade, this will not be a requirement for enrollment in a public school for any subsequent grade. If you plan to homeschool for kindergarten and first grade, there are no additional requirements for kindergarten. File your PI-1206 when your child is age 6 on or before September 1st of the current year.
Truancy – WI statute 118.15(5)
- It is your responsibility to file the PI-1206 each year you are homeschooling, and to file it at the correct time.
- Your child is truant if you have not filed the PI-1206 at the correct time and received electronic confirmation that it has been processed.
- 118.15(5) outlines the penalty for truancy, which includes monetary fines and imprisonment.
- If you consider yourself to be homeschooling a child between the ages of 6-18, but have not filed the PI-1206 form, your child is truant.
- Filing a PI-1206 form cannot be done retroactively.
- The Department of Public Instruction only keeps forms for 7 years. You must keep a copy of every PI-1206 you file.
Tutors – WI statute 115.001(3g)
“‘Home-based private educational program’ means a program of educational instruction provided to a child by the child’s parent or guardian or by a person designated by the parent of guardian. An instructional program provided to more than one family unit does not constitute a home-based private educational program.” (WI stat 115.001(3g))
As long as the person you have hired is teaching only your family unit, you may hire a tutor.
Public School Classes – WI statute 118.53
A pupil enrolled in a home-based private educational program may attend up to 2 courses at a public school in the district during each school semester if the school board determines that there is sufficient space in the classroom. A pupil enrolled in a home-based private educational program and attending a public school under this section may attend one course in each of 2 school districts, but may not attend more than 2 courses in any semester.
Public School Sports Teams and Extracurricular Activities – WI statute 118.133
“A school board shall permit a pupil who resides in the school district and is enrolled in a home-based private educational program to participate in interscholastic athletics in the school district on the same basis and to the same extent that it permits pupils enrolled in the school district to participate. Upon request, the home-based educational program in which the pupil is enrolled shall provide the school board with a written statement that the pupil meets the school board’s requirements for participation in interscholastic athletics based on age and academic and disciplinary records. No person may provide a false statement under this paragraph. The school board may not question the accuracy or validity of the statement or request additional information.
A school board shall permit a pupil who resides in the school district and is enrolled in a home-based private educational program to participate in extracurricular activities in the school district on the same basis and to the same extent that it permits pupils enrolled in the school district to participate.
A school board may charge a pupil who participates in interscholastic athletics or extracurricular activities as permitted under this section participation fees, including fees for uniforms, equipment, and musical instruments, on the same basis and to the same extent that it charges these fees to a pupil who is enrolled in the school district.” (WI stat 118.133)
Immunization – WI statute 252.04
Since “home-based private educational programs” are not included in the state statute regarding immunization (252.04), this statute does not apply to homeschoolers. Confirmation of this is also noted on page 13 of the Department of Health Services publication, “Wisconsin School Immunization Requirements, 2019-2020”
PLEASE NOTE: If homeschoolers choose to take classes at public or private schools or participate in sports or extracurricular activities, these students may be subject to the requirements of the institution.
WPA will not assist homeschoolers in complying with regulations demanded by public school districts when a homeschool student wishes to participate in a public or private school program.