August 4, 2010

State Corrects Q&A at HSLDA Request

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

Question 21 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 may investigate if it “receives a complaint alleging that no instruction is occurring.”

Despite the rising acceptance of homeschooling, there are probably some who believe that children do not really receive instruction unless they attend an institutional school. Others might think no instruction is occurring just because a homeschool family does not follow the regimented schedule of a brick-and-mortar school.

So implying that a complaint should be filed if someone thinks “no instruction is occurring” seemed likely to prompt spurious complaints against families. We therefore asked the DPI to remove question 21 completely.

A DPI representative refused, but at least agreed to take out the problematic “no instruction occurring” language.

Sometime later, HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff followed up to see if the DPI had actually changed Q&A 21 as they had promised. They had not.

Woodruff brought this to the attention of the DPI representative. She apologetically said it must have “slipped through the cracks.” The change was soon made. The language in Q&A 21 that might have resulted in misguided complaints was removed.

Now Q&A 21 provides a more appropriate response: it refers to a complaint alleging that a homeschool “does not meet the criteria” of the homeschool statute.