Robert—a homeschool grad who lives in Wisconsin—was interested in the “earn while you learn” crane operators apprenticeship program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development because it would enable him to gain valuable hands-on experience and related instruction in heavy equipment operation while also earning a paycheck.

Unfortunately, state officials refused to recognize his out-of-state Michigan high school diploma and denied his apprenticeship application. Officials pointed out that he didn’t meet a minimum requirement that apprentices have a high school diploma because they couldn’t verify his homeschool’s registration with the Michigan Department of Education—even though the requested registration is not required to legally homeschool in Michigan.

Since Robert’s parents were members of Home School Legal Defense Association, Robert reached out to us for assistance. Initially, it looked like the objections being raised by Wisconsin officials amounted to nothing more than a minor obstacle. So I drafted a letter verifying Robert’s completion of a lawful homeschool program in compliance with Michigan law, which is where Robert lived through high school graduation.

But Robert was turned away again.

Wrong Requirements

This time, state officials cited their inability to verify compliance with various legal requirements for Wisconsin homeschool programs, none of which applied to Robert’s program completed in Michigan. Robert was told he must take the GED.

I suspect heavy equipment operators don’t give up on their mission easily, and certainly not because the obstacles appear stubborn. Robert didn’t.

He let me know that he wanted to keep pursuing eligibility without taking the GED because he is a lawful high school graduate. I kept the pressure on the state officials and engaged in follow-up advocacy, inquiring with more specificity about their requirements for out-of-state graduates. Eventually, lawyers for the state agreed that Robert was eligible to participate in the apprenticeship program without taking the GED since he is a lawful homeschool graduate.

It’s unfortunate that Robert’s application was delayed several extra weeks, but we’re both grateful for the positive resolution. Hopefully, Robert’s determination will continue to serve him well as a crane operator.