August 26, 2011

Birth Date vs. Age on CPI Form

Under the Iowa statutes enacted by the state legislature, homeschool families are required to list their child’s age when they file their annual notice—but not the child’s birth date.

However, regulations the state Department of Education later adopted say that a birth date must be listed. So which is right?

A child’s date of birth is sensitive, confidential information. In a criminal’s hands, it can make identity theft easier. And as all information experts will tell you, there is no way to make any data absolutely safe from criminal exploitation.

In not requiring you to list your child’s birth date, the legislature has protected you from being forced to disclose information that could be stolen and used for felonious purposes. In a few states, the actual birth date is required. We can be grateful for the Iowa legislature’s wisdom in not demanding birth dates.

Iowa statute 299A.10 authorizes regulations to “implement” the requirements found in the homeschool statutes. A regulation that merely implemented the requirement to list a child’s age would not be objectionable.

However, the department’s regulation calling for date of birth (281-31.2(1)a(2)) goes beyond merely asking for age. It imposes a new, distinct and significant burden.

And it is not necessary in order to implement the legislative command. For example, Bonnie who turns 6 on September 16 is not of compulsory school attendance age. But Clyde who turns 6 on September 15 is. In this context, however, it makes no difference whether Clyde turned 6 on September 15, or the previous April 15, or the previous December 25. It's all the same.

Because the regulation goes beyond simple implementation, and a birth date is not necessary information, HSLDA for at least 10 years has taken the position that those families who wish can simply write: “age ___ as of September 15” (putting the age in the blank) in the box on the CPI form calling for birth date. (September 15 is the cutoff date for determining whether a child is of compulsory school attendance age.)

Other families may wish to go ahead and provide the child’s birth date. This is a matter of personal preference. This has not been a high profile issue over the years, nor has the issue been addressed when other homeschool regulations have been changed.

It has been reported to us that more parents than usual are asking about whether to disclose their child’s birth date. We are not aware of any reason why this would be a more significant issue now than in previous years. We will continue to tell families that they have the options above.