PO Box 2502
Madison, WI 53701
September 17, 2020 – Wisconsin Homeschooling Parents Association Statement Regarding the Consequences of Doing More Than the Law Requires
Wisconsin Homeschooling Parents Association has been in regular communication with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) since early August to address misinformation, harassment, and threats against parents withdrawing from public school to start homeschooling.
In our ongoing communications, the DPI has noted its agreement with WHPA assertions about Wisconsin law, saying:
- “Regarding the PI-1206 form, DPI agrees that under Wis. Stat. § 115.30(3), no school district can compel the submission of the form prior to October 15.”
- “It is not appropriate for districts to be placing undue pressure on parents to submit a PI-1206 form, nor to be threatening truancy action if a PI-1206 form is not submitted prior to October 15.”
- “If a parent communicates to their resident district their intent to homeschool their student(s), a district should consider that sufficient notice up to the October 15 deadline to submit a PI-1206 form.”
On September 14, representatives of the WHPA Board of Directors met with representatives from the DPI to discuss ongoing concerns with continued harassment of homeschooling parents. In that meeting, WHPA laid out a sampling of the egregious reports of harassment and abuse of Wisconsin’s compulsory attendance law, many of which happened after the Department’s August 24 guidance to administrators. That meeting ended with a commitment from DPI to take action to clarify the Department’s guidance.
WHPA formally requested the DPI do the following:
- Clarify and re-iterate the August 24 guidance issued to school districts.
- Clarify that this guidance is not temporary under a COVID-19 emergency, but has always been true under Wisconsin law, and applies to all Wisconsin school districts.
- Provide a clear explanation of Wisconsin’s compulsory attendance and truancy laws, including the truancy process and its proper applications. This guidance should include a reminder that under Wis Stat 118.15(4), receiving instruction in a home-based private educational program (homeschool) is a substitute for attendance at a public or private school.
- Move the availability date of the PI-1206 Homeschool Report to the third Friday in September, to comport with the words of the statute.
Meanwhile, WHPA continues to gather data and empower parents with information and tools to assert their rights under the law. If you had or are having problems asserting your rights in your school district, please contact WHPA at (608) 283-3131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHPA thanks you for your patience and perseverance in advocating for yourself and your children. By standing up for your rights under the law, you help protect our very reasonable homeschooling law which has worked well since 1984.
We especially thank those of you who are new to homeschooling this year, and are diligently working to understand your rights and responsibilities in the face of confusing misinformation, and even threats from school districts.
One of WHPA’s Ten Principles is “Do only the minimum required by statute or regulation. Doing otherwise will reduce freedoms you and other homeschoolers enjoy.”
Since 1984, WHPA has advised homeschoolers to file their PI-1206 Homeschool Report between the third Friday of September and October 15. This reasonable guidance follows both the words and the legislative intent of our law, which was carefully crafted to put homeschools, public schools, and private schools on the same legal footing. When some choose to file earlier than the third Friday in September, it creates a precedent that affects all of us. One of the outcomes is that some schools and districts now expect homeschoolers to file earlier, and some now believe that filing earlier is actually required. Some districts have even said or implied that parents must file as early as July 1 when the DPI currently makes the form available (July 1 is an arbitrary date that has no basis in our homeschool law).
We are experiencing an outcome that WHPA has warned about for decades: Because some homeschoolers chose to do more than the minimum required by law over the years and filed their PI-1206 Homeschool Report early, filing early is now expected and some school districts now believe that filing early is actually required.
The WHPA Board of Directors and Question Answering Committee (QAC) volunteers have been working tirelessly this summer and fall to undo some of the damage of these misunderstandings and misapplications of our homeschool law. WHPA will diligently continue our communications with the DPI, and our monitoring of ongoing problems, to ensure our long-standing homeschool law is preserved and the rights of all Wisconsin homeschoolers are protected. WHPA will continue monitoring and reaching out to Wisconsin school districts who are impeding homeschoolers’ rights, and is prepared to act should other problems arise. Finally, WHPA continues to strongly encourage all Wisconsin homeschoolers to read and understand our reasonable law for themselves, and to confidently exercise their right and freedom to provide an education to their children according to their own principles and beliefs.
When we speak with one voice we are heard.