Sample letter on privacy to local school superintendents

Your street address City, state, zip code

Date

Dr. or Mr. or Ms. (full name), Superintendent

________________ School District
Street Address
City, state, zip

Dear Dr. or Mr. or Ms. (last name):

I am writing to ensure that my family's privacy is maintained. Please take appropriate action on the following requests and send me a letter informing me that you have done so.

First, I want to ensure that directory information, other vital data, and any other records you may have about me and my children (names, addresses, telephone numbers, and any other information about us) are not released to anyone without my written permission, including but not limited to colleges and universities and their recruiters, places of employment, commercial and business interests, military recruiters, researchers, other public and private schools, public agencies, reporters and other media personnel, etc. This request is based on provisions in Wisconsin's privacy and open records statutes, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, and instructions to school districts from the DPI that homeschoolers are not to be included in the public school student identification system.

Second, do not use directory information and other vital data that you obtained from my PI-1206 form or any other source to contact me for any reason other than to comply with the statutes concerning compulsory school attendance and school census. (Actually, my PI-1206 form provides all the information you need to send to the DPI concerning the school census.) For example, do not contact me to inform me of your school programs and opportunities, to ask me what services I want you to offer, to obtain more information about my family, to conduct surveys of homeschoolers, etc. FERPA, NCLB, and Wisconsin statutes do not authorize you to use information from families (such as that on PI-1206 forms) for any purpose other than that for which it is intended. PI-1206 forms are intended to provide the DPI and you with a report on the number, gender, and grade levels of students enrolled in home-based private educational programs.

Please note that I am writing this letter as a preventive measure since some public school districts seem not to understand or to abide by the laws governing our privacy as homeschoolers. I realize that you have statutory authority to release some data about public school students under certain circumstances. However, you do not have the authority to release information about homeschoolers. Therefore, even if I had not written this letter, you would not have the authority to release or use data about my family other than to comply with the statutes concerning compulsory school attendance and school census. The vital data about my family contained on my PI-1206 forms or obtained by your district in other ways are not public school student "directory data" since my children are not enrolled in your schools. (This is the case even if a homeschooler is taking one or more classes in your school district.) Therefore, by law you should not include this data in any student identification system, release it to others, or use it to do surveys of homeschoolers or market your programs to me.

The DPI has acknowledged this protection of homeschoolers' privacy in writing in its Questions and DPI Responses about home-based private educational programs (homeschools). Question 17 is What is the Department of Public Instruction's policy on releasing names of parents who are providing a home-based private educational program to their children? Response: Consistent with the state pupil records law and its policies, the Federal [sic] Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the open records law, the Department of Public Instruction does not release the names of families who have enrolled their children in a home-based private educational program.

Please acknowledge in writing that you received this letter and that you will not release vital data about my children or my family to anyone (except to comply with the Wisconsin compulsory school attendance and school census statutes) and that you will not use such data to send surveys to me, market your programs to me, or similar activities without my written permission.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

[Your full name]
Administrator
Home-Based Private Educational Program

cc: [one or two people in your community-a non-homeschooler might be a good choice]