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3/21/2011 4:17:55 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Wisconsin--Call to Stop "Intermittent Attendance" Threat

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Wisconsin--Call to Stop "Intermittent Attendance" Threat

Dear Members and Friends in Stoughton, Wisconsin:

On Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m., the Stoughton Public Safety
Committee will take up a piece of legislation that could be used to
attack families who are thinking about homeschooling.

The proposed ordinance forbids and punishes--but does not
define--"intermittent attendance." Forbidding something that is
undefined is bad policy. It creates traps for law-abiding citizens.
And it gives judges broad power to interpret it the way they want.

It is not uncommon for families to switch back and forth from
homeschooling a couple of times before making up their mind. Their
freedom must be protected.

But an activist judge could decide this was the crime of "intermittent
attendance."

Furthermore, state law does not authorize towns to forbid
"intermittent attendance."

ACTION REQUESTED

Please call or visit all members of the Public Safety Committee and
ask them to remove "intermittent attendance" from the proposed
ordinance. (The daytime curfew provision has already been removed.)

CONTACT INFORMATION

The members of the public safety committee are:

Ross Scovotti, Chair
Tim Carter, Vice-Chair
Greg Leck, Police Chief, Email: gleck@ci.stoughton.wi.us, Phone: (608)
873-4057
Pili Hougan, Deputy City Clerk, Email: mhougan@ci.stoughton.wi.us ,
Phone: (608) 646-0423
Ron Christianson
Larry Weiss

BACKGROUND

You may be told that "intermittent attendance" is already forbidden.
This is not correct. Here is the explanation.

Legal action can be taken against a parent who fails to send his child
to school as required by Wisconsin statute 118.15, the compulsory
attendance law. But this statute does not forbid "intermittent
attendance."

Legal action can be taken against a student for "habitual truancy"
under several different statutes. However, those statutes do not
forbid "intermittent attendance."

One does not encounter the phrase "intermittent attendance" until
simple truancy is defined. Wisconsin statute 118.16(c) defines simple
truancy to include "intermittent attendance." But this statute does
NOT FORBID simple truancy!

Instead, Wisconsin statute 118.16 presents simple truancy as a subject
on which public schools may enact policies for their own students.
For example, Wisconsin statute 118.16(4)(c) says a public school may
adopt a policy to require a public school student to serve detention
for simple truancy.

It might be appropriate for a public school to discipline public
school students for "intermittent attendance." But there is no
justification to apply that concept beyond the school walls.

This is confirmed in Wisconsin statute 118.163. It permits towns to
enact ordinances against simple truancy, but under a definition
that--importantly--does NOT include "intermittent attendance." The
type of simple truancy against which towns are authorized to enact
ordinances is: "a pupil ... absent from school without an ... excuse
... for part or all of a day... " 118.163(1)(d).

The proposed Stoughton ordinance goes beyond the authority the state
legislature has granted because it tries to forbid "intermittent
attendance."

It would be appropriate for Stoughton public schools to adopt policies
to give their students detention for "intermittent attendance." But
it would be unlawful for the town of Stoughton to criminalize it.

It would not only be unlawful, but it could be used to threaten the
constitutional rights of families who have not yet made up their mind
about homeschooling--families who may switch back and forth a couple
of time before resolving on a long-term plan.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!


Sincerely Yours,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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