Wisconsin Homeschool Law

Wisconsin State Laws Regarding Homeschooling

What we commonly refer to as Homeschooling falls under the State Department of Public Instruction definition for a “Home-Based Private Educational Program.”  [Wisconsin Statute 115.001 (g)]

THE BASICS

Curriculum: “… sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.”
Compulsory Attendance Ages:
  “between the ages of 6 and 18 years.” (6 years old by September 1.)
Required days of instruction:  “at least 875 hours of instruction each school year.”
Teacher qualifications:
  None required.
Standardized tests:
  None required.
Verification of hours or curriculum:
None required.

Personal record-keeping is highly recommended.

In order to comply with the compulsory school attendance law. the parent or guardian is required to complete the online PI-1206 Homeschool Report (HOMER) from the Wisconsin Dept of Public Instruction’s website.


What is a home-based private educational program?

The following bullet points are copied straight from the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction website.
Links embedded in each redirect to Wisconsin Legislature website.

  • Under Wisconsin Statute 118.15(4), a parent or guardian has the right to select a home-based private educational program, commonly referred to as homeschooling, for his or her child or children, in order to comply with the compulsory school attendance law. If this option is chosen, the parent or guardian is required to complete the online PI-1206 Homeschool Report (HOMER).

The PI-1206 Homeschool Report (HOMER) is also known as a Statement of Enrollment Form…

(To see the online form without having to login yourself, we have provided this for you: PI-1206 Copy of Electronic Form 2013-14)

*** To go directly to the Wisconsin State Dept. of Instruction website and complete your PI-1206, go here: https://www2.dpi.state.wi.us/HomeSchoolParent/(S(szp5y555q2vdhp553tjhrk55))/Login/Login.aspx

Why are you required to file an Enrollment Form with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction? 

Simply put, Wisconsin Statutes require reporting by the State Superintendent of Schools.  In order to comply with the statutes, the Department of Public Instruction creates various forms to collect the data so that they are able to complete the applicable reports.

  • Wisconsin Statute 115.001(3g) states, “Home-based private educational program means a program of educational instruction provided to a child by the child’s parent or guardian or by a person designated by the parent or guardian. An instructional program provided to more than one family unit does not constitute a home-based private educational program.”
  • Under Wisconsin Statute 118.15(1)(a), the compulsory school attendance law, (*An important part of the statute is omitted from the DPI site. The section of the statute actually begins: “Except as provided under pars. (b) to (d) and (g) and sub. (4), unless the child is excused under sub. (3) or has graduated from high school.” If you click on the link to subsection 4 (also copied below) you will notice that this does not apply to instruction in a home-based private educational program.)
    “… any person having under control a child who is between the ages of 6 and 18 years shall cause the child to attend school regularly during the full period and hours, religious holidays excepted, that the public or private school in which the child should be enrolled is in session until the end of the school term, quarter or semester of the school year in which the child becomes 18 years of age.”
    118.15(4)  Instruction in a home-based private educational program that meets all of the criteria under s. 118.165 (1) may be substituted for attendance at a public or private school.
The age requirement with respect to the required enrollment in Kindergarten can be a confusing issue.   The law requires compulsory school attendance at age six.  All children must complete Kindergarten.  Students that are only 5 years old as of September 1st may not be required on a Statement of Enrollment (PI-1206).   Wisconsin Parents Association has some helpful information here, that explains this.
  • Wisconsin Statute 118.15(4) states, “Instruction in a home-based private educational program that meets all of the criteria under s. 118.165(1) may be substituted for attendance at a public or private school.”
  • Wisconsin Statute 118.165(1) specifies that a home-based private educational program must provide “… at least 875 hours of instruction each school year.” In addition, the program must provide a “… sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.” The statutes contain no express authority for any agency or school district to monitor home-based private educational programs or to verify the hours of instruction provided or the use of a sequential curriculum.
  • Wisconsin Statute 118.165(1)(e) states that a home-based private educational program must not be “… operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory school attendance requirement under s. 118.15(1)(a).”
“Instruction in a home-based private educational program that meets all the criteria under 118.165 (1) may be substituted for attendance at a public or private school. [118.14 (4)]
The 118.165 (1) criteria are as follows:
  1. “primary purpose of the program is to provide private or religious-based education,”
  2. “the program is privately controlled,”
  3. the program provides at least 875 hours of instruction,
  4. the program “provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction” in the required subjects (which”does not require the program to include in its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice in conflict with the program’s religious doctrines,” or exclude any such topic), and
  5. the program is not operated to circumvent the compulsory attendance law.

PI-1206 Homeschool Report (HOMER)

For a complete step-by-step walk through of the electronic (HOMER ) Reporting system,
Click Here.

By October 15th each year the parents submit a statement of enrollment to the Department of Education, indicating whether the home school meets all the requirements under Wis. Stat. Ann. 118.165. [Wisc. Stat. Ann. 115.30 (3)]
IF your children have been officially enrolled in a public school or a conventional private school for the 2011-2012 school year, Wisconsin statutes require that you file the form before you begin homeschooling.
The form is available by online access.
Data entry for the upcoming school year 2011-2012
will be open beginning August 15th, 2011.

Since School Enrollment Records Day (the third Friday in September) is the benchmark for statewide public schools to file Wisconsin DPI Forms, it is suggested that you wait to file your PI-1206 Form until October 1st.

The deadline for filing is October 15th of each year.

SPECIAL TO STUDENTS IN VIRTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOL:
IF your child will be enrolled in a Wisconsin charter school, you DO NOT need to file a PI-1206 Homeschool Report.

Wisconsin’s inter-district public school open enrollment program allows parents to apply for their children to attend virtual charter schools in districts other than the one in which they reside.

Open Enrollment Application begins in February of each year.  On February 1, 2012  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation which extended the application period for open enrollment application from February 6 to April 30.  Check the DPI website for the Application.

   While virtual charter schools have attracted a number of formerly homeschooled students, they are public schools and all children enrolled in these programs are public school students. You must, however, register your child in your resident school district.
   If your child is attending a virtual charter school under the open enrollment program, your school district of residence must pay for their attendance. That school district must have a registration on file in order to raise the money through property taxes and state aids with which to pay for the open enrollment program.
   If, however, your child will be enrolled in an out-of-state or a privately operated correspondence or virtual school, he/she is considered enrolled in a home-based private educational program and the online PI-1206 Homeschool Report must be submitted. If you are unsure as to whether the virtual school in which your child will be enrolled is a Wisconsin virtual charter school, please contact the school.
(from HOMER: General Information FAQs)

QUESTIONS FOR DPI?
The Department of Public Instruction does not provide personal consultation or technical assistance regarding home-based private educational programs.
If you have questions about the HOMER system, please contact Diane Sullivan at (608) 267-9248, or toll-free at (888) 245-2732  extension 6; or send an email to Homeschooling@dpi.wi.gov.

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Before you go online to the PI-1206 Homeschool Reporting (HOMER) system, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.      You want to provide the least amount of information as possible.  It is best to leave out private information not necessary per Wisconsin State Statutes.  

2.      It is not necessary to specify the grade level of your homeschooled children, you may use the “Ungraded” boxes.

The statutes do not require listing grade level of home educated students. 

By using the ungraded box, you retain the ability to educate your child at the levels – in each subject – that fit him or her on an individual basis.

The option to use curriculum that fits each individual child, is an important benefit to home education.  Homeschooling is not required to be “one-size-fits-all.”

3.      Names and ages of your homeschooled students are exempt from the information requirement.

4.      Don’t give your phone number as it undermines your family privacy.  Phone numbers are easily searched from a national database.

5.      Unless you want to take the chance of your email address being given out to a school district or a business (remember when DPI shared our postal addresses with the virtual charter schools a few years back?), DON’T use your email address as your “username.” You may make up any username you want instead of your email address.  Just be sure to write it down somewhere.

6.      Don’t file too early.  You have until October 15th.  We don’t want to trigger any changes in the current law.

7.      Review Wisconsin Parents Association’s recommendations of how to comply with the statutes without giving DPI more than they need.

8.      You can go back and change your online form if your status changes (ie: you stop homeschooling one of your children) at some time during the year.

Wisconsin Statute 0115

HSLDA Wisconsin Homeschool Page

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