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March 14, 2002

School Censuses Concern Home Educating Families

Home school families all over the country routinely contact Home School Legal Defense Association with questions about the federal census and related surveys. However, there is another kind of survey that also concerns many home schoolers.

Many states have provisions for local school districts to conduct a census every few years to assist in planning for school construction and budgeting. For example, Virginia is currently conducting a Triennial School Census. Home schoolers are often unsure whether or not they are required to participate, since they do not send their children to public school. Wisconsin is presently conducting a similar census.

Unfortunately, a different state law governs each educational census, so there is no blanket answer. In Virginia, for example, school districts are required to take a census, but there's no penalty for individuals who refuse to give information. In Wisconsin, home schoolers are not required to participate, since the census is voluntary. In New York those who refuse to participate in the school census may be subject to penalties.

Members who are contacted and asked to participate in school censuses should contact HSLDA so we can help you in determining whether or not you are required to participate.

Home school families may not want to participate in school censuses because public schools will receive money from the state for their children. It is inappropriate for public schools to get money for children who do not attend their school.