July 24, 2002

Wyoming Continues to Offer Free Lunches

Natrona County is the latest school system to startle home schoolers by asking invasive questions like "What was the first language spoken by your child?" Natrona has sent a 19-page packet to each local home school family that includes a chart of family incomes and asks whether this family would be eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch at the public school. (A home school family with six children can get the reduced-price lunch if they make less than $55,000 a year.)

Page four of this packet explains why the district is asking for all this information. When 50 percent or more of the total school population is eligible for free or reduced lunches, that school receives federal funding through Title I. Each low-income family that the school district can identify increases the chances that the district will receive federal funding. Since most home schoolers have more than the national average number of children, and almost all home schoolers get by on a single income, home schoolers are a great source of "low-income" families for purposes of getting extra federal dollars.

We have no objection to public school districts offering government benefits to home schoolers, but we do advise our member families that they are under no obligation to provide personal information about family finances, languages spoken in the home, race, religion, or related matters to local school districts. For this reason, Home School Legal Defense Association prepares forms that our members may use when communicating with their local school district. We have advised our member families in Casper that they should use these forms, not their district's invasive version.