Want to Begin Homeschooling Now? You Can Do It!
What if you decide to begin homeschooling in the middle of the year? Or what if you move to Virginia after school starts and you want to homeschool? Or maybe you decide to begin homeschooling after the August 15 deadline?
The fact is—you want to begin homeschooling…now. What should you do? What can you do? What can you do if you missed the deadline? Maybe you didn’t even know there was a 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 contact 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.
1. Read all you can. Basic Info is a great place to start!
2. Sign up for HEAV’s FREE resources:
Weekly e-newsletter (Virginia Homeschool Update)
Quarterly print and digital magazine (The Virginia Home Educator).
3. View the free webinar, “An Introduction to Homeschooling!”
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.”
Moving to a New School Division
If you’re a new Virginia resident, or you’ve moved within the state from one school district to another — such as moving from one county to another — and wish to homeschool 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. You may contact the superintendent’s office by phone, letter, or by filing a preliminary “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” form. You then have thirty days to complete the requirements and fully comply with homeschool statute §22.1-254.1.
Virginia parents who decide to homeschool 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 proceeding. It is 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 notice has been given in compliance with the statute, the family should be considered legal homeschoolers.
As a homeschooling parent, you are not applying for permission or seeking approval, but simply notifying the superintendent’s office of your intent to provide for your child’s education in a manner already approved by the Virginia General Assembly. The law does not require a parent to wait for “approval” from the division superintendent before withdrawing a student from a conventional school.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Know the law! 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.
- Notify your division superintendent.There are two ways to do this:
- Write a letter to the school superintendent notifying him of your intent to homeschool, or
- Send a completed “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” form. This form is available from the HEAV website, at the HEAV office, or in the Virginia Homeschool Manual.
- Submit a letter or the completed form and (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.)
- Include a description of your curriculum. 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.
- Call the HEAV office if you have any questions. (804-278-9200)
- Contact a local support group in your area.HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout the state. You can find a list of groups and contact information at “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.
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. Know your rights as a parent. Know 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.]