Legislative Alert: Religious Exemption Revisited
Again–Loudoun County School Board Will Consider Religious Exemption Action
The Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) is again considering changing Virginia’s long-held religious exemption (RE) statute, §22.1-254(B)(1). School board representatives on the Legislative and Policy Committee are scheduled to meet on August 6 to discuss last year’s RE proposal–an action that was put on hold as a result of the outcry from the homeschool community.
If the RE school board policy remains on LCSB’s legislative agenda, the next step will be to present it to a legislator who will introduce it in the 2020 General Assembly. If it passes the General Assembly, it will affect the religious freedoms and parental rights of every RE homeschool family in the Commonwealth. This is a step toward increased oversight of all homeschool families–NOI and RE.
- Call or email the school board member who represents you and respectfully ask your board member to remove the action item to change Virginia’s religious exemption. Brenda Sheridan, Eric Hornberger, and Beth Huck are voting members of the Legislative and Policy Committee and will make a recommendation to the full board after discussion at the August 6 meeting. Other board members may be present to be part of the discussion, so your school board member should know your opinion--even if he or she cannot vote yet on the measure. Contact information is listed here.
- Attend the August 6 Legislative and Policy Committee meeting and sign up to speak during the public comment portion of the agenda.
Here are some suggested tips and talking points:
- There is no evidence of a problem. The religious exemption statute has functioned well since 1976.
- There is no evidence that education is not taking place.
- Ask them to remove the action item to change Virginia’s religious exemption.
- Have notes; be prepared; make your time count!
The Loudoun County School Board is putting into motion a process that will erode our religious freedoms. In Virginia religious freedom is a founding principle where we “are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.”
The LCSB Legislative and Policy Committee will be reviewing their 2019 Legislative Action Item regarding religious exemption which states the following:
SUPPORTS COMPULSORY EDUCATION FOR ALL VIRGINIA SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN
Supports legislative changes to the Virginia Code §22.1-254(B)(1) related to religious exemption from compulsory public school attendance to require that a child be guaranteed the fundamental right to an education by his or her parent or legal guardian, in compliance with Article VII of the Constitution of Virginia, through an alternative public, private, parochial and/or approved home instruction setting.
Attorney Scott Woodruff of Home School Legal Defense responded to the proposal by saying, “The board’s action item is worded in a way that clouds its true objective. Most people would read this and have no idea what the board is really trying to accomplish.”
LCSB’s statement indicates that a child is guaranteed the fundamental right to an education through an alternative public, private, parochial and/or approved homeschool. Religious exemption is not an option. Because the LCSB states they support legislative changes to the religious exemption statute, we can expect—without intervention—homeschooling under the religious exemption statute to be changed or repealed.
Whether you are religiously exempt or file a notice of intent, we encourage you to stand with your fellow homeschoolers for religious freedom! HEAV will stand to protect and defend a religious exemption to compulsory attendance. Thank you for helping us with your support—prayer support and financial support during this critical time.
Please join HEAV NOW!