• It is illegal to homeschool in Wisconsin without filing form PI-1206 “on forms provided by the department [the DPI],” which now means filing online.
• WPA and all other Wisconsin-based homeschooling organizations that we know of tell homeschoolers to file form PI-1206 online. Detailed instructions are available on the WPA website.
• Unfortunately, the website of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) suggests that homeschoolers file HSLDA’s paper version of form PI-1206. Homeschoolers who file this version and do not file the online version are homeschooling illegally. They could be charged with truancy and taken to court. This could lead to new homeschooling legislation that increases state regulation of homeschooling and reduces the homeschooling freedoms of all homeschoolers.
• Please inform other homeschoolers so they do not file a paper form because they were misinformed by HSLDA’s website and then get into trouble.
For detailed instructions on how to file the form online, go to the WPA website at www.homeschooling-wpa.org and click on “Filing the Electronic Form PI-1206” in the yellow box at the top of the home page.
If your children are not currently enrolled in a public school or a conventional private school, WPA strongly recommends that you file your form online after the third Friday in September and before October 15th. If your children are currently enrolled in a public school or a conventional private school, you are required to file your form before you begin homeschooling. You can begin homeschooling anytime, before or after October 15th. For more details and explanations about when to file your form, see the WPA website.
WPA is publishing this information now because last fall, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a national homeschooling organization based in Virginia, suggested on its website that homeschoolers file HSLDA’s paper version of the form that is available only to HSLDA members. WPA objected to this suggestion. WPA explained that the online form requires the same information that the previously used paper forms did. Families who file a paper form (which the DPI will not accept) and do not file online are homeschooling illegally. Such actions could lead to these homeschoolers being charged with truancy and taken to court or could result in legislation to increase state regulation of homeschooling in Wisconsin.
Every homeschooling support group based in Wisconsin that WPA knows about, including Wisconsin Christian Home Educators Association (Wisconsin CHEA), agreed with WPA and encouraged its members to file the form online. However, despite this, and despite attempts by WPA as well as Wisconsin CHEA and HSLDA members to communicate to the President of HSLDA and to an HSLDA attorney with responsibilities for Wisconsin that HSLDA’s position on filing form PI-1206 is wrong and a danger to homeschooling freedoms in Wisconsin, and despite the fact that WPA has also written and posted this information in its newsletters and on its website, as of June 7, 2012, the HSLDA website persists in offering their illegal way of filing their version of form PI-1206 and thereby misinforming homeschoolers and increasing the chances of a court case or Wisconsin homeschooling legislation brought by opponents or critics of homeschooling who are looking for such an opportunity.
A further note of explanation: It is important to understand that HSLDA views homeschooling freedoms differently from the way WPA does. HSLDA focuses primarily on statutes, so when a state has a statute in place that says families can homeschool as long as they comply with requirements such as taking standardized tests, submitting their curriculum to school officials for review and approval, or reporting to school officials, HSLDA claims that homeschooling freedoms have been won in that state. By contrast, WPA pays close attention to statutes but also considers the other factors as well. WPA believes that parents’ right to homeschool comes from God or nature, not the state. Therefore, the state does not have authority to direct and review and approve homeschools (which are private schools). It is unreasonable and unnecessary for the state to require homeschoolers to take standardized tests, submit their curriculum for review and approval, report their homeschooling activities and progress to school officials, etc.
It is important to realize that some of the statutes in other states that give the state unnecessary power and authority over homeschoolers are the result of court cases and legislative battles in the 1980s and 1990s in which HSLDA was involved. They lost a number of these court cases, and they were willing to accept state regulation of homeschooling that is not acceptable to WPA. Therefore, it is important to examine and seriously question recommendations that HSLDA makes that specifically cover Wisconsin homeschoolers, Wisconsin statutes, and homeschooling in Wisconsin. For more information, including the history of this issue, go to the WPA website at http://homeschooling-wpa.org and click on Issues and Legislation at the top of the page and then on Filing PI-1206 on the right.