Q. Am I required to provide my child’s date of birth on my city’s Notice of Intent form?
A. No, 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. In order to show that a child is under compulsory school laws, a parent can provide a child’s age as of September 30 since this is the date referenced in the statute.
A name and birth date can be used to identify and track children. Because homeschool students are increasingly using technology in a home setting, parents are rightfully concerned about privacy issues. Technology companies can easily collect personal information about students and their online habits–without parents’ permission or knowledge. School districts, with your student’s identifying information, may or may not have adequate privacy policies. They also may inadvertently fail to comply with the law protecting the information on your Notice of Intent form or religious exemption letter. (In 2015, HEAV initiated a law that passed to prevent release of homeschool information.)
Because school officials 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, some school districts’ websites, as well as the Virginia Department of Education website, have Notice of Intent (NOI) forms that ask for birth dates and grade levels. The law does not require you to use their form or any form. You may even write a letter.
Don’t be intimidated by a follow-up phone call or letter from the superintendent’s office stating your NOI will not be “approved” without this information. Some parents quickly supply the requested information for fear of jeopardizing their right to homeschool. The law does not support a superintendent’s denial of a parent’s right to homeschool for this reason.
If unauthorized information is required, simply state that you will be glad to comply with the law if they can show you where it is required in the Virginia Code. They may respond that it is their “policy.” Policy is not the same as law. Homeschoolers must comply with the law in the same way the school division must comply with the law. Please consider the implications of providing more information than is legally required. If enough parents comply, we can expect more unauthorized requests such as notarized signatures, social security numbers, birth certificates, immunization records, etc.
I suggest parents download and print HEAV’s NOI form here. And, as always, it is important to KNOW the law–and to be cordial and polite–when speaking with those in your division superintendent’s office.