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No. 4

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Beware of Aggressive Survey Takers

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a private school survey in California. The U.S. Department of Commerce randomly selects private schools for participation and sends them a survey booklet. The introductory letter contained in the booklet clearly indicates that the survey is completely voluntary.

It is up to each individual school to decide whether or not to participate. However, those who choose not to participate by simply ignoring the survey will find themselves having to deal with repeated contacts from census takers.

Typically, if a private school does not respond after multiple copies of the survey and reminder postcards have been sent, the census takers will start calling the school, often leaving voicemail messages containing a “case number” that the private school is supposed to reference when returning the call. If the school does not respond to the phone message, the census takers sometimes visit the school in person.

The “case number” mentioned by the census takers sounds rather ominous and usually provokes the nervous school administrator to call Home School Legal Defense Association. However, while the census takers may use intimidating tactics to garner participation in their survey, HSLDA does not know of any adverse repercussions that have resulted from schools choosing not to participate. In order to avoid mounting pressure

from census takers, HSLDA recommends that you firmly inform them early on in the process that your school does not wish to participate in the survey. Ask them to remove your school from the

call list. If the census takers continue to contact and pressure you, tell them that you view this behavior as harassment, ask for their supervisor’s name and phone number, and contact HSLDA’s legal department.

Even though the census takers’ dogged pursuit of survey participants is more of an annoyance than a real threat to your homeschool, a timely response to their inquiries will help ensure that you don’t find a census taker knocking at your door.

— by J. Michael Smith