This post is part of a series titled, “Homeschool Q&A.” The series features questions we’ve received from parents on a variety of topics–and the answers! This question, originally answered in 2010, is still accurate in 2012.
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!