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November 4, 2014

School Goes Silent on DPI Form Issue

Scott Woodruff answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Wisconsin. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

In November of 2013, a Milwaukee-area family withdrew their son from public school, including his Individual Education Plan (IEP). The family soon received a phone call from a school representative informing them that the school received a report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) pointing out that a DPI form was not filed for their son. The family asked HSLDA for help.

Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff wrote the school representative and explained that under Wisconsin law, the purpose of the DPI form (which public and private schools also file) is to count where children attend as of one date annually—September’s third Friday. Since the student was in public school all of September, he was (presumably) tallied when the school filed its own DPI form. It would be improper to report him on a homeschool DPI form since that would be double counting him.

A Question of Law

The school representative called the family and acknowledged receipt of Woodruff’s letter. But she suggested that she understood Wisconsin homeschool law better than Woodruff, and said that the family still needed to file a homeschool DPI form.

Woodruff wrote her back and asked four questions that he hoped would provoke her to think through the issues more carefully.

  • What Wisconsin law requires a homeschool student to file a DPI form if he starts homeschooling after September’s third Friday?
  • Did your public school tally this student when the school filed its own DPI form?
  • Do you agree this student would be double counted if the family reported him this year on a homeschool DPI form?
  • If the family put their son back in public school, would the school submit a revised DPI form to update the state on the school’s new total enrollment?

The school representative never responded to Woodruff or the family involved.

In an Awkward Position

The DPI continues to promote inaccurate guidance to local schools about the homeschool laws. As a result, the public school staff who have a role in implementing the laws find themselves in an awkward position because the DPI’s guidance is unworkable and unenforceable.

And the problem lies not only with the DPI. One Wisconsin homeschool organization has aligned itself with the DPI on this issue and urges families to file a homeschool DPI form even if they start homeschooling after September’s third Friday. History teaches that when citizens do not exercise their rights, they tend to lose them.

We encourage HSLDA members to protect their rights by the simple act of exercising them. This means not filing a homeschool DPI form if you begin homeschooling a child after September’s third Friday, as per Wisconsin statute 115.30(3). HSLDA will continue to advocate for families, like the one in this article, who encounter a public school district that has been misguided by the DPI or those allied with them on this issue.

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Protect Your Family

If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>