The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXVII
No. 2
Cover
March/April
2011

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WISCONSIN

State Corrects Q&A

An alert Home School Legal Defense Association member told us that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) online Q&A, “Questions and DPI Responses Relating to Home-Based Private Educational Programs,” contained misleading information.

A question asks what happens if someone alleges that a family is circumventing the compulsory attendance law. The DPI’s original answer said that a school district could investigate if it “receive[d] a complaint alleging that no instruction is occurring.”

Despite the rising acceptance of homeschooling, some still believe that children do not really receive instruction outside an institutional school. Others might think no instruction occurs if a homeschooling family does not follow the regimented schedule of a brick-and-mortar school. So implying that a complaint should be filed if someone thought “no instruction [was] occurring” seemed likely to prompt spurious complaints against families.

HSLDA asked the DPI to remove the question completely. Although a DPI representative refused, she did agree to take out the problematic “no instruction occurring" language.

Some time later, HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff followed up to see if the DPI had actually changed the question as promised. The department had not.

Woodruff brought this to the attention of the DPI representative. She apologetically said it must have “slipped through the cracks.” The language that might have resulted in misguided complaints was soon removed.

Now the question provides a more appropriate response for districts who receive an allegation against a homeschool family: “A school district may have implied authority to investigate a complaint” alleging that a particular program “does not meet the criteria” of the homeschool statute.

— by Scott A. Woodruff