I was writing an article about how to get started homeschooling in Louisiana and wanted to get as accurate a number as possible.
They refused to provide the number.
I was told at least three times, "We don't give out that number."
Note that in Louisiana, regardless of which of the two options you choose, everyone who is homeschooling legally reports to the Louisiana Board of Education. They have a number (unlike many states that do not require any reporting whatsoever). They didn't deny having a number, they just stated repeatedly that they would not provide it.
The Louisiana Public Records Act states:
The Louisiana Public Records Act, also known as Louisiana's Sunshine Law, was enacted by the state’s legislature in 1940. Section LA 44.01.2(a) defines public records as, “All books, records, writings, accounts, letters and letter books, maps, drawings, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, memorandum, and papers, and all copies, duplicates, photographs, including microfilm, or other reproductions thereof, or any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including information contained in electronic data processing equipment, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed, or retained for use in the conduct, transaction, or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty, or function which was conducted, transacted, or performed by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state, or by or under the authority of any ordinance, regulation, mandate, or order of any public body or concerning the receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or the laws of this state, are "public records", except as otherwise provided in this Chapter or the Constitution of Louisiana.”I contacted Governor Jindal, Louisiana House Representative Seabaugh, and State Senator Traver and wrote the following:
Anyone can request public records and a purpose does not need to be stated. There are no restrictions on what can be done with the public documents once a records requester has them in hand. The custodian of the records must respond to requests within three days.
This morning I contacted the Louisiana Board of Education and requested the number of children enrolled under the Home Study and Registered Nonpublic School options available to homeschoolers in our state. I was repeatedly told that they "do not give out that number." When asked why, they just repeated that they do not give out the number. Why are they not releasing it? Seems to me that such a number should be available upon request under the Louisiana Public Records Act. I would appreciate your office's investigation and response to this matter.Louisiana requires information from us, and I am requiring information from them. If you think this is a pile of garbage that they won't release the numbers that we supply them with, then please contact the governor and your representatives and demand this information be released.
EDITED TO ADD: This afternoon Press Secretary for the Louisiana Board of Education was in touch with me and provided numbers about enrollment. The phone call I made earlier was apparently handled incorrectly. Thank you, Mr. Barry Landry. He stated:
It’s not that this is protected information. It’s just not a data point usually readily available because it is not calculated through the normal course of business. Our data management team would have to write a query to search the database and pull these numbers together.
Fortunately in this situation, I made such a request to our data team in the last few months.
Here are the numbers as of Oct. 1, 2013. I have included the enrollment for all public schools from the same time to give you something to compare them against.
Home Study Program – 9,798
Registered, Non-Public Schools – 12,108
Public Schools – 713,110