Moving to Virginia? Beginning after the deadline? Starting mid-year?
Want to Begin Homeschooling Now? You Can Do It!
You want to begin homeschooling…now. How do you get started? What can you do if you missed the deadline? Do you have to wait another year to begin?
No matter what the circumstances, get complete and accurate information about all homeschooling options before you begin contacting local officials. Local school divisions will gladly give you information, but may add policies beyond the requirements of the law, or be unfamiliar with recent legislative changes. By being well informed, you’ll know what to expect and be better prepared to make important decisions.
Virginia statute §22.1-254.1 (B) states:* “Any parent who moves into a school division or begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intentions to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within thirty days of such notice.”
Here’s What You Need To Do:
This is a critical step in the withdrawal process. When you know the law, you will have confidence when notifying your division superintendent. Visit the law section of the HEAV website for complete information, links to the actual statute, and tips on what you need to know. For a comprehensive overview, be sure to view the Law Flowchart.
Additionally choose one of the following options
- Show evidence of a high school diploma (attach a copy of your diploma or transcript, or higher degree), or
- Submit your Virginia teacher certification if you are a teacher, (attach documentation) or
- Provide evidence of acceptance by a correspondence course or a distance-learning program (attach receipt for payment or confirmation letter), or
- A letter stating that you are able to provide an adequate education for your child. (SOLs and details concerning all options listed above are available here.)
The law requires limited documentation of curriculum—just a description. A curriculum description is now limited by law to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year. Examples of subjects could include math, algebra, geometry, history, world history, American history, handwriting, science, biology, physics, language arts, grammar, composition, British literature, music, art, rhetoric, Latin, foreign language, macroeconomics, etc.
Help is just a phone call away! HEAV has experienced phone counselors available to help you, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (804-278-9200)
HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout the state. You can find a list of groups and contact information under Support. A local support group is familiar with the homeschool climate in your area and can usually tell you what to expect. Experienced parents in the group can also offer encouragement as you get started.
New School Division Residents
Are you a new Virginia resident, or have you moved within the state from one school district to another? If you want to educate your child(ren) under Virginia’s homeschool statute, you must comply with Virginia statute §22.1-254.1. Inform your local division superintendent that you are in his district and will begin homeschooling. You may contact the superintendent’s office by phone, letter, or by filing a preliminary “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” form. Then, you have thirty days to complete the requirements and fully comply with homeschool statute §22.1-254.1.
Virginia parents who decide to begin homeschooling after the August 15 deadline may also begin midyear. According to the language in §22.1-154.1 (B) above, parents are allowed to begin homeschooling after the school year has begun. Parents should follow the same procedures as those for new residents.
However, this does not mean that parents who already teach at home can be lax about the yearly deadline. It clearly refers to parents who begin to homeschool for the first time after the school year has begun. The deadline can be enforced if a parent willingly avoids or carelessly neglects to notify the division superintendent by August 15.
Withdrawal From Public School
If you plan to withdraw your child from public school in order to begin homeschooling, it is helpful to understand the homeschool statute before you begin. We recommended that you file your “Notice of Intent” with your local school superintendent, in accordance with Virginia Code 22.1-254.1, before giving notice of withdrawal from school. Withdrawal before notifying the superintendent could result in a truancy investigation. Truancy charges can include fines up to $100 per day and six months in jail.
If your initial “Notice of Intent” to the superintendent does not include complete information because you are making final curriculum plans, you have 30 days from the initial notice to complete the requirements and fully comply with the law. However, once you have given notice, you should be considered legal homeschoolers.
What Happens When Something Goes Wrong?
If for some reason the superintendent responds negatively,
- Respectfully ask him to put his decision and/or requirements in writing and to mail you a copy,
- Discuss the requirements of the law with experienced homeschoolers, give our office a call (804-278-9200), and/or seek legal counsel, and
- If all else fails, within thirty days you may appeal his decision before an independent hearing officer. The cost of the hearing will be apportioned by the hearing officer based on his findings. Never ignore official correspondence or telephone calls.
Know the Law, Know Your Rights
It is important for you and your child to begin your homeschooling experience on a positive note. Know the law. Understand your rights as a parent. Decide what to do and how to prepare for success. Virginia does not have onerous laws. Meet the requirements, and you can homeschool…now!
*If this statute cannot accommodate your religious convictions, please refer to Religious Exemption in the sidebar or read related articles in the Virginia Homeschool Manual for more information.
[Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. The purpose of this article is to inform interested parents of options under the Virginia statute.]