A “home-based private educational program” is limited to one family unit and is defined as “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.” See Wisconsin Statute 115.001 (3)(g). In general, home-based private educational programs are subject to the same requirements as private schools. See Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.15 (1) (a), §118:15 (4), § 115.30 (3), and §118.165 (1)
|Notification:||By October 15th of each year, administrators of public schools, private schools, and homeschools are required to notify the Department of Public Instruction of the number of students enrolled in their instructional programs. Homeschool parents and guardians meet this requirement by electronically submitting form PI-1206, which requires them to affirm that the family’s educational program is in compliance with all requirements. Parents or guardians who begin homeschooling in the middle of the school year should submit this form before the date their child ceases attending public school. Authorized personnel at each school district have access to the names of parents or guardians who have filed PI-1206 forms within their district. If a homeschooling family moves to a different school district, or if the number of children enrolled in their homeschool program changes, the parents or guardians are requested to update their PI-1206 form online. See Wis. Stat. Ann. § 115.30 (3).|
|Days or hours:||Homeschools are required to provide 875 hours of instruction each year. See Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.165 (1c).|
|Subjects:||Homeschools are required to provide “a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, math, social studies, science and health.” See Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.165 (1d).|
|Intervention:||Wisconsin law does not give either the Department of Public Instruction or local education agencies the authority to monitor home-based private educational programs to ensure that they are meeting the requirements outlined here. However, should a complaint be lodged, the local superintendent may ask the homeschool parents or guardians to provide evidence of their compliance with the law.|
Services Available to Homeschooled Students
|Part-time enrollment:||Yes. School districts are required by law to allow homeschooled students to attend up to 2 courses at a public school in the district during each school semester if the school board determines that there is sufficient space in the classroom. The school board of a district shall determine the minimum standards for admission to a course offered by the school district in grades kindergarten through 8. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.53.|
|Extracurriculars:||Yes. In 2015, the state legislature passed a bill that required public schools to allow homeschooled students to participate in public school athletics programs on the same basis as other students. The provision allows school boards to ask for a written statement that the student meets the school board’s requirements for student athletes’ academics and student conduct, but prohibits school boards from questioning the accuracy of the statement. However, Governor Scott Walker vetoed a portion of the bill that would have required the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association to change its mandate that limited participation to high school teams comprised only of students enrolled at that school. Striking down this portion of the bill created a gray zone. Public schools are required to enroll homeschooled students on the same basis as other students, but the WIAA formally bars teams that include such students from participating in interscholastic athletics in the state. See Wis. Stat. Ann. § 118.133 (1) and 118.133 (2)|
|Disabilities:||No. While public schools must offer special needs evaluations to all students within their districts regardless of what school they attend or whether they are homeschooled, public schools in Wisconsin have no obligation to provide additional services to homeschooled students with special needs.|
Early homeschooling families requested permission from the Department of Public Instruction or incorporated as private schools. The Department of Public Instruction was highly critical of homeschooling, but in 1983 the Wisconsin Supreme Court declared in State v. Popanz that the state’s compulsory education law “void for vagueness since it fails to define ‘private school.’” In response, the Wisconsin legislature passed a homeschooling law with minimal requirements the following year. This law remains in force today.
For more, see A History of Homeschooling in Wisconsin.
This overview is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.