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Originally published Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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State bill targets public info about home-schoolers

Parents who home-school their children have asked Washington lawmakers to exempt their registration forms from state public-disclosure laws. The Legislature appears poised to grant their request.

The Associated Press

Parents who home-school their children have asked Washington lawmakers to exempt their registration forms from state public-disclosure laws. The Legislature appears poised to grant their request.

Two bills concerning home-schooling and public information have passed the House and on Monday quickly passed out of the Senate Education Committee.

State education officials know of nearly 20,000 children educated at home, but they suspect that number is low because some districts don't report home-schooling.

DiAnna Brannan, a volunteer lobbyist for the Christian Homeschool Network of Washington, estimated the actual number of home-schooled kids is twice as large.

Brannan, who spoke at a Monday hearing, suspects some parents may not register with their districts because they are worried their private information could be shared with the public.

Most home-schooling forms ask for the children's names and ages and a parent's name, address and phone number.

Brannan said some districts also ask for birth dates, ethnicity and Social Security numbers, and the data is subject to public-records laws.

Brannan said release of home-schooling forms could pose both a privacy and security risk.

The second bill Brennan spoke in favor of would prevent school districts from using the information gathered through home-school forms to send targeted but unsolicited mail concerning learning programs offered by the school district such as online or part-time classroom education.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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