Homeschool News: What You Need to Know
School boards and parents are in the news. Although homeschoolers don’t face all the same issues we’re seeing, school board decisions impact us, too. These same school boards are responsible for implementing homeschool laws and overseeing compliance.
If a school board doesn’t have a good understanding of the homeschool law and how to apply it to their board policy, things can go wrong. They can implement inaccurate procedures or overstep their authority—sometimes even without realizing it.
SURPRISING PRACTICES AND PROCEDURESEach day, parents call the HEAV office with questions about the law or requirements that don’t seem to line up with what they know. In addition, our school board monitoring team reviews the agendas of all 133 school board meetings each month. This allows our government affairs team to address possible misapplications of the law early on—hopefully, before it becomes established policy. As you’ll see, HEAV has taken action when necessary by contacting school boards, superintendents, and homeschool liaisons to protect your rights. Informed homeschool parents and HEAV’s school board monitoring team have alerted HEAV to some surprising practices and procedures. Since the beginning of the school year, HEAV has addressed numerous questions and challenges. You might be surprised to find similar situations in your district. If so, let us know.
- In James City County, a parent asked for help when the district said its policy required parents to provide ALL individual test scores, not just the composite score for end-of-year testing. The situation was resolved when the district was directed to the law that stated a parent must only submit a composite score in or above the 4th stanine. A composite score is the core or basic score made up of language arts and mathematics.
- Caroline County claimed a parent could not begin homeschooling because she wasn’t “approved,” a request considered only once a month at a school board meeting. HEAV respectfully informed them that this policy was inconsistent with the law. Parents are to notify the superintendent of their intent to homeschool and how they have complied with the law. They do not ask for approval. It is not the school board’s responsibility to grant permission to homeschool at monthly meetings.
- Norton, Dickenson, Augusta, and Accomack Counties sent NOIs to the school board for review. HEAV was able to communicate that reviewing NOIs for compliance with the law is the responsibility of the superintendent or his designee, not the entire school board.
- Dickenson County denied HEAV’s access (public access) to proposed changes in board policy, thereby giving no opportunity for the public to support or oppose board decisions before a final vote. HEAV worked with the school board attorney, who has since informed the board and superintendent concerning the required disclosure of policy documents by elected officials prior to voting during public meetings.
- Augusta County insisted on including the grade level on their NOI and required a parent to teach only at the grade level listed. They also requested a copy of the oldest student’s graduation diploma before they would “approve” the younger student’s NOI. Both situations were resolved after HEAV submitted that neither requirement was included in the statute.
- An Alleghany County principal refused to remove a student from the public-school roll until the system notified him, even though the parent had evidence that her NOI had been received by the superintendent. He was informed that the law does not require a delay in taking a student off the rolls until an NOI is “approved” or the school is notified. Parents are not required to wait for “approval.” They are required to notify the superintendent of their intent to homeschool.
- Clarke County asked for a GED certificate in order to process an NOI. A GED is not acceptable under §22.1-254.1; however, HEAV presented other options for parents without a high school diploma.
- Patrick County’s online NOI included date of birth, grade level, and use of “approved courses.” HEAV informed them that this information is not required in the homeschool statute.
- Prince William County’s correspondence referred to immunization records as a requirement to homeschool. HEAV informed them that submission of these records is not a requirement to homeschool and is not part of the homeschool statute. However, according to §22.1-271.4, homeschoolers and exempt students must comply with immunization requirements as in §32.1-46. Immunization records may be requested by the superintendent and submitted to the superintendent.
- Norfolk indicated in writing that parents were required to use their online system for homeschool NOIs and evidence of progress reports. After a conversation with HEAV, Norfolk agreed their system was only an option. The law does not require parents to use a particular form, web portal, or method of correspondence to notify the superintendent of their intent to homeschool.
- Cumberland County sent out a homeschool packet that was out of alignment with the current homeschool law. They acknowledged their error in referencing outdated laws and agreed to make the necessary changes.
- The Mecklenburg District insisted they must receive an end-of-year progress report for a child who was five on September 30. HEAV shared that five-year-old children were exempt from testing. They quickly changed their policy.
- Floyd County required a high school diploma for all options on an NOI form. HEAV courteously pointed out that the statute requires a parent to comply with one of four options to homeschool: a high school diploma is required for only option (1). The superintendent also acknowledged he had been approving religious exemptions rather than referring them to the school board as the law requires. He agreed to change these policies.