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2008 Legislative Summary

LYNCHBURG CONSIDERS RELIGIOUS-EXEMPTION POLICY
Lynchburg City Public Schools considered a new religious-exemption policy that would require children of parents claiming a religious exemption to sign a form stating they had conscientious religious objections to attendance at public school. The proposal required the signature of ALL CHILDREN, regardless of their ages. A university law student contacted HEAV to report his constitutional law professor’s concern. HEAV board member and Lynchburg-area resident Rick Boyer spoke in opposition to the proposal. Based on a letter of explanation from Scott Woodruff of HSLDA and opposition testimony at the school board meeting, the board decided no child would be required to sign the form. (Update March 17, 2008)

Questions about the Virginia Homeschool Law
It’s important to understand your rights as a parent and to know the correct application of the Virginia homeschool law. Let’s discuss some of the questions asked by new and veteran homeschoolers:

    • What are the ages for school attendance?
    • What if my child is not ready for school?
    • Whom should I notify that I plan to homeschool?
    • When do I notify?
    • How do I comply with the Virginia homeschool law?
    • Do I wait for permission to homeschool?
    • Are laws different for certified teachers?
    • Am I required to have my children vaccinated?
    • What about religious exemption?
    • What if my superintendent asks for more information than the law requires?
    • Do I have to use the form sent by my superintendent?

What happens if something goes wrong? (Update Aug. 8, 2008)

Virginia High School League Makes Final Decision on Sports Access
In September, HEAV made a formal presentation to the Virginia High School League on behalf of homeschoolers who were interested in participating in interscholastic activities. HEAV proposed ways homeschoolers could comply with the intent and spirit of VHSL rules, while being very careful to protect the rights of parents who do not want to participate in public school activities.

At the follow-up December meeting, the executive committee decided to withdraw the homeschool proposal. In a recent conversation with VHSL executive director Ken Tilley, Yvonne Bunn of HEAV asked for an explanation of the vote. Tilley stated, “It became obvious there was no support for the proposal.” He further explained that no one felt they could accommodate homeschoolers. They saw it as implementing a different standard, and they had questions about academic oversight, concerns about lack of the same academic criteria, and discussions about discipline issues and the application of varying standards. (Update Jan. 9, 2008)

Testing Methods Are Clarified
HB 1183 Introduced by Delegate Lingamfelter (R-Fairfax), this bill clarifies existing homeschool testing laws and gives parents clear testing choices. The law already states that parents can submit one of the following as evidence of progress: the results of a standardized achievement test, or an evaluation or assessment that the division superintendent determines to indicate the child is making an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

Now superintendents must also accept the following methods for evaluations or assessments under the second testing option including but not limited to:
- An evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline;
- A report card or transcript from a community college, college, college distance-learning program, or home-education correspondence school. PASSED (Update Feb. 27, 2008)

Tax Credits
HB 1164 (Delegate Saxman) proposed a bill creating tax credits for businesses and individuals who contribute to eligible foundations and scholarship funds. These funds can be distributed to qualified students, including homeschoolers. FAILED (Update Feb. 20, 2008)

Correspondence Course Approval Eliminated
HB 767 Patroned by Delegate Tata (R-Virginia Beach), this bill eliminates superintendent approval of correspondence courses and eliminates the SOLs in language arts and math as a method for homeschooling. In addition, the bill allows home instruction if the parent provides a program through distance learning or any other manner, or if the parent provides evidence that he is able to provide an adequate education for the child. PASSED (Update Feb. 27, 2008)

Public School Transfers:
HB 259 (Delegate Fralin) requires a local school division to obtain written or electron documentation of a student’s transfer from a public school before making any status changes. It will require some form of communication from a parent if the parent withdraws a student in order to homeschool him. PASSED (Update Feb. 27, 2008)

Sports Access Introduced
HB 375 Delegate Carrico introduced sports access legislation. Several representatives of VHSL spoke against the bill. Del. Hamilton expressed concern that this bill would create an uneven playing field for public school students and homeschool students. A motion was made to PBI (pass by indefinitely) the bill. Delegates Landes, Lingamfelter, Fralin, Cole, Gilbert, Athey, Pogge, Massie, Loupassi, and Morrisey voted to report. FAILED (Update Feb 5, 2008)

Tax Credits
HB 420 Delegate Bob Marshall proposed a tax credit for certain qualifying educational expenses paid for public and private elementary and secondary schools and homeschooling, for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2008. The credit amount allowed to be claimed is the lesser of the amount actually paid or (i) $2,000 for home schooling, and (ii) $3,000 for public and private elementary and secondary schools. FAILED (Update Jan. 29, 2008)

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