February 21, 2007

State Website Erroneously Interprets Homeschool Statute

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website, under the “Frequently Asked Questions” section, explains “What is a home-based private education?” by referring to several sections from Wisconsin statutes. The last paragraph of the answer states:

“Wisconsin Statute 118.15(1) (a) states ‘ any person having under control a child who is between the ages of 6 and 18 years shall cause the child to attend school regularly during the full period and hours, religious holidays excepted, that the public or private school in which the child should be enrolled is in session until the end of the school term, quarter or semester of the school year in which the child becomes 18 years of age.’ ”

In reading this paragraph, the website makes it appear that the law requires those within a home-based private educational program in Wisconsin to teach during the full period and during the same hours as the conventional public or private school the homeschooled child might otherwise be enrolled in.

However, an important part of the statute is missing in the above paragraph. The section actually begins: “Except as provided under pars. (b) to (d) and sub. (4)“ Subdivision (4) of Wisconsin Statute 118.15 is “Instruction in a home-based private educational program...” Therefore, the statute which requires a child to attend during regular school hours and days, does not actually apply to those in a home-based private educational program.

Home School Legal Defense Association realizes that this distinction is very important because it allows flexibility to those in a home-based private educational program.

HSLDA Senior Counsel Chris Klicka wrote a letter to the Department of Instruction requesting that the offensive paragraph be removed from their explanation of what a home-based private education al program is. He explained that the statute does not apply to these homeschoolers and it gives an inaccurate portrayal of Wisconsin’s requirements.

HSLDA expects the paragraph to be removed soon.