August 1, 2014

School Census Exceeds Legal Limits

Senior Counsel Dee Black answers questions and assists members with legal issues in Pennsylvania. He and his wife homeschooled their children. Read more >>

Home School Legal Defense Association recently assisted a member family in the Seneca Valley School District after the superintendent asked them to complete a school census form that sought information beyond what state law requires.

The Public School Code of 1949 requires the board of school directors to maintain a continuing school census of all children within the district from birth to age 18. The enumeration must include the following information: “the full name, date of birth, age, sex, nationality, place of residence in such school district, name and address of parent or persons in parental relation, the name and location of the school where the child is enrolled or belongs, and the name and address of the employer of any child under eighteen (18) years of age who is engaged in any regular employment or service.” Anyone who hinders or prevents a person from conducting the census is subject to a maximum fine of $5.00 or imprisonment for up to five days.

The census form sent to our member family did not seek all of the information listed in the statute, but it did seek other information to which the school district was not entitled. This included the date the family moved into the district; their previous address; the birth dates of the parents; the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the parents' employers; the grade level of each child; and the names, genders, birth dates, and employers of any other persons living in the home. HSLDA Senior Counsel Dewitt Black responded on behalf of the family and informed the superintendent that they would complete the form only to the extent that it called for information listed in the school census law.

HSLDA member families encountering such unauthorized and intrusive school census efforts should contact us for assistance.

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