Note: Please read the following information. Specific steps for filing the form are at the end of this section. [This article was posted originally August 20, 2010.]
Key Points to Keep In Mind
Beginning in September, 2010, to save money, the DPI is switching from paper PI-1206 forms to an electronic version that homeschoolers file online for the 2010-2011 school year. Before filing your form, please consider the following.
Key Points to Keep In Mind
Beginning in September, 2010, to save money, the DPI switched from paper PI-1206 forms to an electronic version that homeschoolers file online. Before filing your form, please consider the following.
• Wisconsin statutes require that homeschoolers file form PI-1206 with the DPI every year. It is illegal to homeschool without filing the form.
• Form PI-1206 serves as a signed affidavit of parents’ compliance with the homeschooling law. It becomes an important document if your compliance is questioned.
• The use of electronic forms raises concerns about protecting homeschoolers’ privacy. Electronic forms transmit information directly into a data base which could easily be sorted, duplicated, and provided to others without the cost and time of entering the data. See below for ways to protect your privacy.
• Remember that you are reporting to the DPI that you are homeschooling. You are not requesting their permission or their approval of your plans. You do not need to submit your curriculum or evidence of your children’s work to the DPI.
• To maintain our homeschooling freedoms, do only the minimum required by law. Doing more than the minimum encourages public officials to increase requirements for homeschoolers and exceed the authority they have been granted by law. See WPA handbook, p. 159.
• If your children are not currently formally enrolled in a public school or a conventional private school (that is, if you have not completed an enrollment form for this school year), file the form after the third Friday in September and by October 15. See below for reasons why this is important. (Families who have formally enrolled their children in a public or conventional private school for the 2010-2011 school year are required to file the form before they begin homeschooling, so they need to file the form before the third Friday in September if they want to begin homeschooling before September 17th. Once the DPI has received their electronic form, they can begin homeschooling.)
• You do not need to submit a form for children until the year during which they are six years old on or before September 1. WPA recommends that parents NOT report children who are younger than six, even if they are submitting a form for older children. Again, this is doing the minimum the law requires. It also may help minimize the chances that your local school district will contact you for information about these children or pressure you to have them screened. (For more on problems with screening, see the WPA handbook, page 219.)
• For accurate information about homeschooling and Wisconsin’s homeschooling law, contact WPA. Do not contact the DPI. Much of the information about homeschooling on the DPI’s Web site is inaccurate or misleading; homeschoolers should not trust it. The DPI and the educational establishment have been opposing and misrepresenting the rights and responsibilities of homeschoolers since before the current homeschooling law was passed in 1984. Although they have grudgingly made certain corrections in the information they distribute, they still are not a trustworthy source of information about homeschooling.
Why It’s Important NOT to File the Form Before the Third Friday in September
Some homeschoolers may be tempted to file their form before the third Friday in September to get it taken care of, especially since electronic filing should be quick and easy. They may think this will prevent local public school officials from contacting them. If their children attended a public or conventional private school last year, they may think it’s easier to file the form than to call or write to the school, as a courtesy, to inform them that their children will not be attending this year.
However, submitting the form before the third Friday in September weakens homeschoolers’ authority and freedom to operate a homeschool independent of the state and public school authorities. Here are some of the reasons:
• Filing the form early becomes a substitute for knowing and exercising our homeschooling rights and, if necessary, standing up for them. Instead it is used to shield us from dealing with public school officials. When the form is used in this way, public school officials gain power over homeschoolers, power they didn’t have before homeschoolers gave it to them.
• When some homeschoolers file the form early, it encourages local school officials to require all homeschoolers to do so, even though the statutes do not give officials the authority to do so. For example, officials could require that homeschooler file their forms before September 1 so school officials know who will not be attending public school; then officials could pressure them to attend. It could also encourage officials to attempt to demand more of homeschoolers, such as details about the curriculums they are using, their calendars and daily schedules, etc.
• Wisconsin statutes require public and private schools (which include homeschools) to report to the DPI their enrollment as of the Friday in September. Homeschoolers who file their forms after that date are emphasizing to school officials that they are simply reporting their enrollment along with other schools. They are not under the control of the public schools. They are not registering their homeschool with the DPI or requesting permission from the DPI to homeschool.
• Homeschoolers who file their form early are not fully exercising their rights and freedoms, perhaps because they do know how much freedom they have and how important it is to exercise it.
• Filing the form early could weaken the power of WPA as a grassroots organization of informed parents confidently and, when necessary, strongly standing up for their rights and freedoms.
How To File the Form Electronically
• Go to the DPI Web site at http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/homeb.html. You can file the form from any computer with Internet access, including a friend’s computer or one at your local public library. You do not need an email account to file the form or receive confirmation that the DPI has received your form.
• The DPI suggests using your email address as your ID when filing the form on the DPI Web site. To protect your privacy, WPA encourages you NOT to use your email address. If you use it, your local school district may contact you by email to request more information (which they are not authorized to collect), encourage you to enroll in the public school, offer you special favors, etc. Also, data bases including contact information too often are misused and/or given to other government agencies and researchers.
• You may be asked to provide your phone number(s). It is not required. To protect your privacy, WPA strongly recommends that you NOT provide it. [Update 9/3/10: In response to WPA’s request, the DPI has removed its request for phone numbers.]
• Fill in the form completely. The electronic form is very similar to paper forms from previous years except for the fact that the questions are on separate pages. For a sample completed form from a previous year, see the WPA handbook, page 29. Note that to protect your privacy, the form does not require your children’s names, birthdates, ages, social security numbers, etc. Since 1984, homeschoolers have worked hard through WPA to prevent this information from being required. Please do not provide any information that is not required.
• Although one page has a header labeled “Electronic Signature,” all you have to do to “sign” the form is check a box that says “By checking this box, I agree that the home-based private educational program meets all of the following criteria.” Nothing else is required for your signature. You do not need to scan it in, type your name, provide your social security number or any other identifying number, or anything else.
• As soon as you have clicked on the box that says, “Submit Enrollment Data,” you will see a page that says, “Congratulations! Your PI-1206 Homeschool Report has been successfully received. What To Do Next.” Click on “Print a copy of your Homeschool Report data.” Note that in the upper right hand corner of the form you printed, it says, “To the Parent: Your PI-1206 Homeschool Report has been submitted and received by the DPI. Your confirmation number is 000.” This statement is the equivalent of a letter of acknowledgement from the DPI and is what you will need for proof that you submitted your form.
• Note that near the bottom of the form it says,
“Recommendations: It is recommended that a copy of the following be maintained in your home if you are homeschooling children:
* A school calendar verifying a minimum of 875 hours of instruction.
* Course outlines verifying that there exists a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction.”
This statement has appeared on PI-1206 forms since 1984. It appears more prominently on the electronic version of the form than it did on previous print versions. Remember that the DPI does NOT have the authority to require that you keep either a school calendar or course outlines, and local school district officials do NOT have the authority to ask you for them. (However, officials do have the authority to ask to see your attendance records. See WPA handbook, page 82, for information.)
If an official asks to see your school calendar or course outlines, politely respond that they do not have the authority to make such a request. If you need more help, see the WPA handbook or call your Regional Coordinator or the WPA voice mail at 608-283-3131.
• If you are beginning homeschooling during the school year, take a printed copy of your form to the school your children have been attending. Explain to the person you talk with, preferably the principal, that you are now homeschooling, and ask them to remove your children from their rolls. Write down the name and title of the person with whom you spoke and the date and time, so you have a record in case there are any questions about when the school was informed that your children are homeschooling. Or better still, make two copies and give one to the principal and have the other copy signed and dated by the principal indicating the date and time he or she received a copy of your form. Keep this signed copy for your records.
• Keep your copies of your form on paper or store it as a PDF or something similar in your computer. Copies are sometimes required by school officials, employers, colleges, Social Security officials, military recruiters, and others.