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February 1, 2016

“Why Isn't My Letter Sufficient to Disenroll My Daughter?”

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YOUR ATTORNEY Scott Woodruff

Before the school year began, an east-central Wisconsin family notified the local public school that they were withdrawing their daughter in order to homeschool her.  The school, however, said they would not allow her to withdraw and would count her as truant until the family filed their annual statement of enrollment (also known as the PI-1206 form).

The family wondered why their letter was not sufficient to disenroll their daughter.  They asked HSLDA for help.  Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff wrote to the principal and explained that a public school does not have the lawful authority to keep a child in public school after the parents withdraw her. Enrolling a child in public school does not extinguish a parent's right to choose the form of education they wish to provide.

Woodruff also explained that the annual statement of enrollment is not due until October 15. Woodruff asked the principal to acknowledge that the child was withdrawn when the parents gave notice, and acknowledge that the PI-1206 is not due until October 15.

The principal replied and said he would continue to mark the child as absent.  But he also agreed he would not pursue truancy charges provided the family filed their statement of enrollment by October 15. The family dutifully filed their PI-1206 by the deadline and never heard anything further from the school.

If a legal battle had ensued, however, there is no doubt that the courts would have honored the parental decision to withdraw the child and would have rebuked the usurpatory claim that the school rather than the parents decides if a child is withdrawn.

The fact that the PI-1206 is not due until six weeks after the public schools have been in session is one of several reasons families can be sure that—while filing the form is required—failure to file it does not make a student truant.