Proposed Homeschool Law Change
A former homeschooler—and now first-year teaching parent—was in tears as she read a letter from her district saying they would not accept her homeschool diploma for option (i). This distraught parent was shocked and didn’t know what to do.
A frustrated Virginia-certified teacher questioned the district’s requirement that she file an NOI annually and turn in test results. Did she misunderstand the law? Did she file incorrectly?
Another parent was confused by the district’s demand for documentation of a correspondence course for option (iii). She wasn’t using a correspondence course. She had filed under option (iii) “in any other manner” instead of a correspondence course. She had no idea how to respond.
And an intimidated parent almost gave up when she complied with option (iv) and was required to provide arbitrary documentation in a letter to the superintendent explaining why she was able to teach her child.
I’d like to say these incidents are rare, but they’re not.
In the past year alone, HEAV has responded to more than 120 parent requests for help concerning the misapplication of the homeschool law in their districts.
This means days, weeks, and sometimes months of back-and-forth emails and phone calls between HEAV and district representatives, superintendents, school board members, or school board attorneys.
The school board monitor team has provided solid evidence and documentation of the great need to simplify the homeschool law as well as protect the personal information of families who educate their children under religious exemption.
It’s time for a change.
MAJOR HOMESCHOOL STATUTE CHANGES
HEAV, in collaboration with HSLDA, is initiating major revisions of the homeschool statute in order to address the problems noted above. Delegate John McGuire (R-parts of Goochland, Henrico, Louisa, Spotsylvania) has agreed to introduce HEAV’s legislation.
As evidenced in the real-life situations above, the homeschool law is often misapplied, creating stressful and unnecessary confusion. Clarifying the four options would simplify the process for both parents and superintendents (as well as their staff). It would greatly diminish the chance of misapplying the law.
Parents would still file a yearly Notice of Intent that includes the names and ages of their children as of September 30 and a description of the curriculum. Parents would still provide end-of-year progress by the August 1 deadline.
These changes would not negatively impact the certified tutor provision (§22.1-254(A)) or the religious exemption statute (§22.1-254(B)(1)). They would simply streamline the notification process each year by eliminating the unnecessary requirements to get started
PRIVACY PROTECTION FOR
RELIGIOUSLY EXEMPT FAMILIES
HEAV has also requested legislation that adds a new provision to the closed meeting laws (§2.2-3711 (A)). This bill will add an item that allows the discussion of information included in a religious exemption (RE) letter to take place in a closed meeting unless the parents give permission to use it in a public discussion.
A closed meeting is vaguely implied in §22.1-254(G) but needs to be specific in order to protect both parents and school boards. Delegate Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach) has agreed to sponsor this legislation for HEAV.
This change will provide privacy protection for religiously exempt families who are concerned about an open board discussion of personal religious convictions. We would no longer see identifiable information on school board agendas or in public board minutes. It will also strengthen the idea of treating private and personal religious exemption documentation with the highest degree of confidentiality.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED FOR THESE BIG CHANGES
We need your support to move this legislation forward.
- First, and most importantly, we need your prayers.
- We need you to respond quickly to our calls to action by making phone calls or sending emails to committee members, your delegate, and your senator.
- Finally, your financial support is needed to cover increasing legislative expenses—lobbying, bill-reading (thousands of them every year!), printing, research, and staffing. Did you know HEAV’s homeschool freedom team works year-round, monitoring all 132 school districts in Virginia, consulting with school officials and the Department of Education, writing, researching, counseling parents, and more?
You can be sure our request for action will not be frivolous. It will be important for you to make your voice heard.
Your personal involvement really makes a difference!
Director of Government Affairs
P.S. We are already in the process of reading pre-filed bills.
Of course, I will let you know about any legislation related to home instruction or anything that could threaten your homeschool freedoms.
I’ll keep you posted as our bills move through the committee process.
Your support of HEAV makes a difference for Virginia homeschool families. Thanks to the prayers and financial support of families like yours, HEAV is here to protect your freedoms.