37. Homeschools Defined by Law as One Family Unit (5/01)

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Whereas Wisconsin statutes state that, “‘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.” (s. 115.001[3g]); and

Whereas a homeschool in Wisconsin is a private school that is limited to one family unit; and

Whereas a national homeschooling organization based outside of Wisconsin has informed some homeschoolers in Wisconsin that they can disobey this part of the statutes by using a questionable legal technicality; and

Whereas Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) is committed to informing homeschoolers about the importance of complying with Wisconsin’s reasonable homeschooling law and maintaining the relationship of trust we have with the Wisconsin Legislature and therefore WPA opposes the idea of using a technicality to circumvent this statute; and

Whereas it is reasonable that small groups of homeschooling families who get together occasionally to participate in educational activities that involve a parent or guardian from all or almost all of the families are not in violation of this statute; and

Whereas homeschooling parents are unlikely to be considered in violation of this statute if they provide children from other family units with instruction (such as music lessons) that is independent of the homeschooling program they provide their own children; and

Whereas anyone who sets up a program that provides children from more than one family unit with a significant portion of the 875 hours of instruction required by Wisconsin statutes can reasonably be considered to be in violation of the law (Such programs blur the commonly understood distinction between homeschools and conventional schools that needs to be maintained to ensure that homeschools are not subject to regulations placed on public schools or on private schools that are not homeschools [even though homeschools are one type of private school]. Also, parents or guardians who are homeschooling their own children are jeopardizing their homeschooling status if they provide a significant program of instruction to children from other homeschooling family units.); and

Whereas so-called “homeschooling cooperatives” (in which children from more than one family unit are provided with a significant portion of the required 875 hours of instruction by some of the parents or guardians or by people they hire) are not legally considered to be homeschools in Wisconsin and therefore participants should not file form PI-1206 with the Department of Public Instruction (however, such families can form a small private school that is not a homeschool, which is not difficult to do in Wisconsin); and

Whereas WPA strongly opposes any attempt to change this statute because such an attempt would open the homeschooling law and allow opponents of homeschooling an easy opportunity to increase regulation of homeschooling, which many people would try to do, especially if the intent of the legislation were to make it easier for homeschoolers to organize themselves into school-like programs; therefore,

Be it resolved by members of the Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) that WPA supports Wisconsin’s homeschooling law and will work to ensure that people are informed about the provision that Wisconsin homeschools are limited to one family unit. 5/01

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