Originally Sent: 10/8/2014

From the HSLDA e-lert service…
Home School Legal Defense Association

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Filing the PI 1206: Paper, Online, and “Rejections”

Homeschooling in Wisconsin.

Don’t forget to file by October 15.

Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members with legal issues in your state. He and his wife homeschooled their children.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Each year between the end of September and October 15, homeschool families must file a report showing how many students were enrolled in their program as of September’s third Friday (September 19 this year).

The report is filed only once a year. Public and private schools must file a report, also. The reports from all the various education systems provide a “snapshot” of how many children were enrolled in each as of the “snapshot” date.

If you began homeschooling after September 19 this year, you are not required to file a report. If you do, it could interfere with the accuracy of the resulting statistics.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is required to provide a form for families to use in filing the report, but it no longer does so. The DPI instead expects families to go to their website and submit information online.

Using the Paper Form

The actual form is available to HSLDA members on the Wisconsin section of our website. If you use the form, be aware that you are not required to enter any information in the box labeled “Name of Public School District of Residence.” You can leave this blank and send it in.

In the address box, you can enter only a mailing address if you wish (rather than a street address).

Send in your report by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep the following in your permanent records: the postal receipt when it comes back to you, your copy of your report, and any response from the DPI.

If you file a paper form, the DPI will send you back a form letter saying (among other things) “no paper forms are allowed.” You do not need to respond to this letter (but do keep it in your records). The DPI does not have power under law to insist that you file your report electronically. (Contact HSLDA if you receive a letter other than the typical form letter.)

Submitting Your Report Online

If you use the DPI’s online system of reporting enrollment data, it will not allow you to submit your report unless you list your school district of residence. However, Wisconsin law does not require you to do this.

Many homeschoolers have little interest in knowing the name of the school district in which they live. School district boundaries change frequently.

If you want to use the online system to submit your report, you will be forced to enter a school district of residence. But there are no penalties for listing the wrong district, despite the dire warnings on the associated screen.

Strangely, the online report will allow you to list NO children being homeschooled. But if you do, the program will subsequently require you to say that you are not homeschooling any children. Exercise great caution. If you indicate you are not homeschooling any children, it could be used against you in a court of law.

If You Fail to File

It has occasionally been suggested that if you fail to file your report, your kids are truant. This is not correct. If it were, all the kids in public schools and private schools would be truant if their school failed to file a report! Wisconsin law does not list a penalty for failure to file the report.

However, the report for homeschools and private schools requires the parent or principal to confirm that the program satisfies certain basic requirements. If a homeschool or a private school fails to file the report, it could prompt an investigation to see whether the program actually complies with the law. So be conscientious about filing the report.

Wrap Up

The DPI’s insistence that paper forms aren’t allowed is simple bluster. But the online report is quick, and the DPI will (presumably) keep a copy of your report for later use, if you desire. Using the paper form takes a bit longer, and you need to be conscientious about keeping your own record, but you avoid having to list the school district in which you live. And you may prefer this method if you’re not comfortable submitting information to a big, impersonal database that could be hacked. HSLDA does not “recommend” one over the other. But both options are available.

But whichever option you choose, keep October 15 in mind!


Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.,
Senior Counsel,
Home School Legal Defense Association

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