How Much Is Too Much Information

The following is a bulletin from Home School Legal Defense League (HSLDA) reminding Wisconsin Homeschoolers that you are within your rights according to state statute to not reply to requests  from your local school district for “census” information.

According to HSLDA, North Lake Wisconsin had requested confidential information (name, phone, gender, birth date, grade, and handicapping conditions of the children) from homeschool families in their school district.  Such data is not required by Wisconsin law to be provided to a local school district.

North Lake is not alone in making a census request for private information.  In previous years, we have heard from families in Waukesha and Neenah that have received similar census information requests.  And there probably are others.  As homeschooling numbers increase, other districts will attempt to collect more information.   Although letters may imply that the census information is required before your homeschool application will be “approved,” this is not the case.

It is important for new homeschool families to remember it is only necessary to give a only the information that is required by law.  When you voluntarily provide more than the law requires, it becomes easier to require more information from everyone at some later point.  Also, all data submitted to a government agency or school district may become public information at any time.

We need to always be vigilant to keep our hard-fought Wisconsin homeschool laws from encroachment.  Know your rights as a homeschooler.

From the HSLDA E-lert Service… Wisconsin: North Lake Seeks Confidential Information in School Census

Dear Wisconsin Members and Friends:

The North Lake School District recently sent a letter to families
asking for protected, confidential information.

There is no law that requires you to respond to this request at all.
Assuming you filed your DPI form in October, you have already provided
the government with virtually all the school census-type information
that it could legitimately collect.

Under Wisconsin statute 120.18(1), school districts are required to
attempt to collect only a very modest amount of census information
from citizens: ONLY the numbers and ages of persons between the ages
of 4 and 20. But North Lake went far beyond that. It requested name,
phone, gender, birth date, grade, and even “suspected handicapping
conditions” of the children!

If you choose to respond at all, consider supplying only the
information the law authorizes the school system to seek in the
census: the number of children age 4 and above living at your address
and their ages.

In general, it is best to give a government agency only the
information that is required under law. If families voluntarily give
information that is not required, it can pave the way for someone to
try to make it mandatory down the road. One of the best ways to
protect rights from encroachment is to exercise them.

Also keep in mind that all information you submit may be made
available to the public.

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel



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