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7/13/2011 4:28:27 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Wisconsin--HSLDA Responds to Questions about School Census Guidance

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Wisconsin--HSLDA Responds to Questions about School Census Guidance

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Following HSLDA's June 23 article containing guidance about Wisconsin
school census issues, a writer raised several questions in an email.
(All references below are to sections of Wisconsin Statutes
Annotated.)

1. Was HSLDA's Guidance "Incorrect"?

Our article included this statement:

"To protect confidential information about your family, you simply
need to be aware of the fact that no state or federal law requires you
to respond to the school census request at all. Alternatively, you can
fulfill the objective of the law by telling only the number of
children in your home and their ages."

The writer said: "this statement is incorrect." However, the writer
offered no explanation as to why the statement was incorrect. Based
on our analysis of the statutes, and without having the benefit of the
writer's thought process that brought him to believe the statement was
incorrect, we continue to believe our guidance is correct.

2. Can You be Charged with Disobeying the Law if you Don't Give
Information to the Census Worker?

The writer said the statement quoted above "misinforms people about
the law which can lead to homeschools being charged with disobeying
the law."

The writer is confused about who is under what mandate. Section
120.18 and its subdivisions place mandates ONLY on school systems and
their staffs. These statutes place no mandates whatsoever on parents.
They don't ask you to "obey" anything. There simply is no
"disobedience" with which you could be charged!

3. Does HSLDA "Suggest" that Families Tell Census Workers the Ages of
Their Children?

The writer said that HSLDA "suggests" that families provide this
information. However, as the quoted statement above shows, we have
not "suggested" this. We have simply informed families that providing
the ages of the children (and the number of children) would fulfill
the objective of the law.

4. Do Census Workers Need to Know if You Homeschool?

The writer said, "The Wisconsin school census statute requires ...
school districts to report ... the number of public and private school
students, including homeschoolers, in their district." Before
responding to this, some background is necessary.

Wisconsin law requires schools annually to file a report containing a
"school count." (See 120.18(1) and 120.18(1)(a)). The "school count"
can be achieved either by conducting a school census on June 30 (under
120.18(1)(a)1, or by using public, private and homeschool statements
of enrollment already on file and adding an estimated number of
children not counted under those statements (under 120.18(1)(a)2).

However, no statute requires the mandatory "school count" or the
optional "school census" to identify which students, or how many
students, are homeschooled. A census worker seeking to find out
whether you homeschool your children cannot legitimately claim that
the law mandates the school to collect that information in the census.

If a school system elects to conduct its "school count" by using
statements of enrollment already on file, it will obviously know how
many students were in a homeschool, public school or private school
the previous year.

5. Should You Give a Census Worker a Copy of Your Statement of
Enrollment?

The writer suggests that you give a census worker a copy of your most
recent statement of enrollment. HSLDA does not recommend this. Your
enrollment statement is already on file and open to the public.
Anyone can get a copy for 15 cents! See 115.30(5). Why give it to a
government worker again? How many times must we give the government
information before they simply leave us in peace?

6. Does Giving a Census Worker a Copy of Your Statement of Enrollment
Meet "the Requirements of the Law"?

The writer said that giving a census worker a copy of your statement
of enrollment "meets the requirements of the law." As I have already
explained, no law requires you to give any information to the census
worker in the first place. In any event, the census worker already has
access to your statement of enrollment and he can view it without
troubling you or your family.

7. If Families Refuse to Give Information to Census Workers, Will it
"Undermine" the Homeschool Law?

The writer is concerned that if families refuse to give information to
census workers, it could result in the introduction of legislation to
make it mandatory, or "undermine" the state's homeschool law. HSLDA
is in the unique position of having a national perspective on this
issue. We have helped families all across the country who have sought
guidance on census issues.

The guidance HSLDA has supplied to our Wisconsin members is very
similar to the guidance we have provided across the nation over the
years in similar situations. We have not seen any state respond by
enacting legislation making census answers mandatory, or "undermining"
a state's homeschool laws.

8. If Families Refuse to Give Information to Census Workers, are they
Preventing the School System from Fulfilling the Statutory
Requirements?

The writer wonders whether refusing to provide census information
could lead school systems to claim "they cannot fulfill the statutory
requirements." This does not seem likely.

Schools have two ways to conduct the required school count: the
optional census OR using enrollment statements they already have on
file (plus an estimate of children missed in those statements).

If a notable number of families refuse to give information to census
workers, the school system's most logical response would be to stop
conducting an annual census, and instead rely on statements of
enrollment already on file, as they are entitled. This would have the
added benefit of saving taxpayers the cost of hiring school census
workers every year. And it would mean one less government visitor at
your door each year to interrupt you and your family.

HSLDA respects the right of every family to respond to a request for
census information in a way that comports with their conscience. Our
hope is simply to help you become accurately informed about the law.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom!

Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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-> You can only do so much...

No one can be everywhere at once. And you can't be at home,
teaching your children, while monitoring your state's legislature.
Through electronic legislative services, HSLDA is monitoring state
legislation for you -- watching and listening carefully for any
proposed laws that could erode your right to homeschool.
Join HSLDA today-we'll watch out for your future.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1942

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