Q.  I filed my Notice of Intent and received a letter from the superintendent saying he couldn’t approve my request to homeschool until I give him my child’s birth date. I provided my child’s age. Do I have to give him the birth date?

After filing a Notice of Intent, several parents reported their school superintendents responded by letter or phone saying they would not “approve” their NOI or “consider their request to homeschool” until birth date information was received. Some superintendents insisted on having both birth dates and grade levels. Their response exceeds the requirements of the law in several ways.

First, the homeschool law does not give a superintendent authority to “approve” or “consider a request to homeschool.” When filing a Notice of Intent, parents are NOT asking for approval to homeschool. Neither are they “requesting” permission to homeschool. Parents are NOTIFYING the superintendent that they have complied with one of the four ways the law indicates parents can educate their children at home.

Second, the Virginia homeschool law, §22.1-254.1, DOES NOT require parents to disclose the birth dates or the grade levels of their children in order to homeschool. A name and birth date can be used as identifiable tracking information. Rather than a birth date, a parent can provide a child’s age. This indicates whether or not a child is under compulsory attendance laws. Since the homeschool statute does not require parents to provide birth date or grade information, there is little the superintendent can do, other than ask, to gain compliance with his request. However, the law does not back him up.

Because school superintendents and their designees are accustomed to having birth dates for public school students, some think they must have the same information for homeschooled students as well. To add to the confusion, the example Notice of Intent form found on the Department of Education’s website includes a place for birth dates. Again, according to the homeschool law, this is not required.

Some parents may be intimidated by a phone call or letter from the superintendent’s office and quickly supply the requested information for fear of jeopardizing their right to homeschool. Please consider the implications of providing more information than is legally required. If enough parents comply, we can expect future requests for additional information, such as social security numbers, parent income or employment information, discipline methods, etc.

Laws are made to protect citizens and limit what government can do. While homeschooling parents don’t want to create unnecessary problems or controversy for themselves, they must stand up for their rights. We all want to promote goodwill with those in authority, but goodwill is fostered when both parties live within the parameters set by the law.

NOTE: HEAV helps protect homeschool freedoms by being there to answer these questions. Thank you for your continued support!

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  1. Kim says:

    Dear Yvonne Bunn,

    My child turned 5 last year in early Sept (2011) and I choose to use the “opt out” provision and keep him at home with me for the year working on kindergarten curriculum little by little. Now I am preparing the Notice of Intent form from the HEAV website to send in to my school district. It only asks for the age, as you described above.

    Does the school need know what grade level of test results to expect from me next summer by Aug 1st? Since I don’t need to indicate any where on the form whether I am going to do kindergarten or 1st grade I was just curious if they will just accept either at that time.

    I was planning on using Abeka curriculum and just attaching a copy of their Scope and Sequence booklet which lists all grade levels in it. Do I need to highlight or tag which grade I will be using (K5 or 1st) ?

    I ask these questions because I am thinking that I will need to do a little K5 refresher with my son but can probably start 1st grade with him this coming year. I don’t want to pressure us both with having to complete it and not feel adequately prepared for the first grade test. But if we do, then great!

    Just unsure how to handle it, whether or not I have to indicate anywhere what grade my child will be working on this year to the school board.

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    KIM

    1. Cynthia says:

      When I used the opt-out provision, I did not provide any testing results to the school board. You can decide the grade level test. You don’t need to “let them know” anything as long as you are in compliance of the law. Next summer (by August 1) you submit a copy of the test scores and that is all that is needed.
      The law has been changed this year to only require a list of subjects. For example: Sally Jones will be studying the following subjects: Bible, math, reading, social studies. No scope or sequence is needed. I learned long ago that compliance with the law is enough – we don’t need to give more information than required.
      On the NOI form, just an age is required.

  2. Yvonne Bunn says:

    Kim, the law states that you must turn in evidence of progress by August 1 each year you homeschool if your child is six by September 30. It does not require you to notify them of the level of testing to expect the following year. Simply send in the appropriate test results next year.

    A description of curriculum includes a list of subjects (reading, spelling, writing, history, science, math, etc.). Sending a scope and sequence would be sending much more information that the law requires. It serves no purpose since they cannot “approve” your curriculum content. Sending too much information can create confusion with the superintendent’s office and could set a precedent for them to request extensive details from all parents.
    Yvonne Bunn, HEAV