Search

HEAV Is Looking Out for You

Homeschool Incident Communications

Through the efforts of your HEAV Homeschool Support and Government Affairs and your School Board Monitor Teams, HEAV keeps you informed of Virginia homeschool incidents by school district. 

Virtual School Targeting 5/22/24

Several school divisions across the Commonwealth have identified it is “prime time” to advertise its virtual public school option exclusively to homeschool families. In the coming months, you may receive letters, emails, or phone calls in relation to this effort.

What You Should Know:
This practice began following the 2020 public school shutdowns as many families found home education the best choice for their children. As a result, public schools continue to experience loss of funding. Since funding is a primary concern, it is helpful to know each virtual public school student provides the division with full ADM funds.

Homeschool parents across the state continue to express concerns about this ongoing practice. HEAV would like to assure parents that, although there is nothing in the law to prevent public school districts from marketing their programs to homeschoolers, a response to these communications is not required.

Resources:

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Wise County 5/9/24

Homeschool parents in Wise County have been sent a packet of information regarding the district’s virtual public school option. Although many homeschool parents express concern regarding such communications, there is nothing in the law to prevent public schools from advertising to homeschoolers in this way.

It is helpful to understand that school districts receive full funding for each student who attends their virtual program. We began to see an increase in these efforts following the shut downs in 2020 as many parents chose to continue homeschooling and districts lost funding as a result. School divisions continue to market these programs, specifically to homeschool parents, to persuade them to return to the government education system. Parents are not required to respond to these communications.

What You Should Know:

  • Virtual education offered through the public school system is not home instruction; it is taxpayer-funded, public school at home.
  • Parents must enroll in the public school system to use the virtual public school option. Families who homeschool, comply via the home instruction statute, §22.1-254.1.
  • Virtual public school requires parents and their children to operate under the authority of the public school system. Families must use the curriculum that is provided to them, follow schedule and reporting requirements, stay in lock-step with public school programming, meet SOL standards, and take SOL tests.
  • In contrast, home instruction is parent-controlled, parent-directed education. Parents choose the curriculum and methods that best meet their children’s individual needs. Home instruction accommodates flexible schedules, varying academic competencies, and interest-lead learning. 
  • Resources: HEAV Law Flowchart, 7 Steps to Begin Homeschooling In Virginia, Virtual Public School Comparison

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

DMV Website Changes 4/17/24

Over the last four months, HEAV has worked with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to correct inaccurate website text. At HEAV’s request, the DMV has aligned its website with the requirements of the law.

The original text stated, “If you are an approved home schooler, driver education can be taught at home. The student must currently be enrolled in a home-schooled program approved by your school division superintendent.” (emphasis added) We are pleased to report the DMV has replaced this text with the following: “If you have complied with compulsory attendance laws, §22.1-254, and are educating under the home instruction statute, §22.1-254.1, driver education can be taught at home. The parent must submit evidence acknowledging compliance.”

Additionally, HEAV has confirmed that parent-taught homeschool students can take the 90-minute driver education component online. Planning District 8 homeschool students are NOT required to take the course in person at a public school. The homeschool parent-teacher must be present with the student when taking this additional online component. HEAV also worked with Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) specialist Vanessa Wigand to ensure the DMV website was updated with accurate information.

Each VDOE-approved driver education course listed on the HEAV website now includes the 90-minute driver education component at no additional cost.

What You Should Know:

  • The terms “approved” and “enrolled” are inconsistent with the home instruction law.
  • Although public school districts oversee compliance with the homeschool laws, they do not have statutory authority to approve a parent’s decision to enroll in a private school, hire a Virginia-certified tutor/teacher, or homeschool. Under the homeschool statute, parents are required to notify the superintendent of their intent to homeschool.
  • Public school districts do not have the statutory authority to review or approve private school, Virginia-certified tutor/teacher, or homeschool programs.
  • The law does not require parents to enroll “in a home-schooled program.” Parents create individual and customized programs of study using various means.
  • Parents present evidence to the DMV of their compliance with the compulsory attendance law by providing a copy of their notice of intent form or a letter from the division superintendent, or an acknowledgment of religious exemption from the school board.
  • All students under age 18, along with a parent or guardian, must participate in an additional 90-minute driver education component as a part of the in-classroom portion of the driver education curriculum.
  • Resources: HEAV Resources: Driver Education, Approved Online Driver’s Ed Courses, Law Flowchart, HEAV’s Notice Of Intent Form; Compulsory Attendance Law: §22.1-254; Home Instruction Law: §22.1-254.1; VDOE Resource: VDOE 2023 Home Instruction Handbook

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Spotsylvania

HEAV reached out to the homeschool liaison regarding information relating to the description of curriculum requirement, NOI option (iii), and compulsory attendance compliance options that were inconsistent with the law. HEAV is pleased to share that we have received a positive response, and we understand the information will be updated promptly.

HEAV would also like to share how pleased we are with the homeschool resources Spotsylvania provides to parents. In working intimately with 132 public school districts across the state, we find Spotsylvania to be an example of accuracy, thoroughness, and helpfulness. HEAV would like to thank Spotsylvania for the excellent work they are doing on behalf of the families they serve.

What You Should Know:

  • Regarding the description of curriculum requirement, the law states: “Any parent who elects to provide home instruction…shall…. provide a description of the curriculum, limited to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year…”
  • Regarding NOI option (iii), the law states: “Any parent…may elect to provide home instruction…if he (iii) provides the child with a program of study or curriculum, which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.”
  • The Virginia Department of Education provides the following guidance for option (iii):
    • “If the child is enrolled in a correspondence course or distance learning program, the parent must submit evidence of such enrollment and a list of the subjects to be studied for the coming year to the school division; however, no judgment of the materials is required of the school division superintendent.
    • If the teaching parent provides a program of study or curriculum that is delivered through any other manner, a list of the courses to be studied for the coming year must be submitted to the school division. Submission of these materials is for information purposes only.”
  • It is the parent’s responsibility to both learn what kind of program they are using and to file appropriately according to the law. HEAV provides general guidance to assist district personnel and parents in determining how they are complying with compulsory attendance (see resources below).
  • Resources: Law Flowchart, §22.1-254, §22.1-254.1, NOI Description of Curriculum, VDOE 2023 Home Instruction Handbook, Notifying Under Option (iii), Is It a Private School or a Homeschool Program?, Information For School Personnel, HEAV’s 2023 Letter to Superintendents

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Prince William

The district has now complied with the homeschool law! In January, we provided information and guidance relating to inconsistencies with the law on the district’s notice of intent form. As explained, we initially reached out to the district in July of 2023. After several follow up inquiries, in December, office personnel informed us the district would review and update their forms with a must-meet deadline of May 1, 2024.

Once HEAV advised the associate superintendent for student services of the situation, she promptly stepped in to address and resolve our concerns. We are pleased to report the district website now links to HEAV’s NOI form which is consistent with the law, case law, and VDOE guidance.

We are thankful to the associate superintendent for supporting Prince William homeschool families and providing this positive resolution.

What You Should Know:

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

King William County

A parent contacted HEAV after a school official indicated, at the end of the year, her child will need to be tested, “…on the subjects that he is taking this year.” After HEAV equipped the parent with accurate information and resources relating to the evidence of progress requirement in the law, she was able to resolve the confusion with the district.

What You Should Know:

  • The law does not require parents to provide evidence of progress for every subject studied.
  • Parents may choose from several evidence-of-progress options available in the law. These include various forms of achievement tests and evaluations or assessments.
  • For the test option, the law requires, “…a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test, or an equivalent score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT test.”
  • A composite score is usually made up of language arts and mathematics.
  • References: HEAV Law Flowchart, HEAV Q&A: Evidence of Progress, HEAV Q&A: Composite Scores, Home Instruction Law

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Stafford

A parent contacted HEAV after receiving written correspondence from a local school official advising that her child will be marked absent until they receive notification of the “approval” of her homeschool “application.” HEAV corresponded with division counsel regarding the importance of processing notice of intents promptly and ensuring school personnel communicate the law accurately to parents.

Stafford’s division counsel thanked HEAV for sharing our concerns and advised they will continue ongoing efforts to ensure staff use correct terminology regarding home instruction and understand the governing statute. Counsel also thanked HEAV for the educational resources provided on our website. HEAV appreciates Stafford’s prompt and positive response.

What You Should Know:

  • It is not uncommon for district personnel to be unfamiliar with the law.
  • HEAV believes it is essential for each parent to know the law for themselves (see “Reference” section below).
  • The law does not indicate public school districts have the statutory authority to “approve” a parent’s decision to enroll in a private school, hire a Virginia-certified tutor, or homeschool.
  • The law states: “Any parent who…begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intention to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within 30 days of such notice.”
  • The superintendent is responsible for promptly processing legal homeschool documentation and updating their systems.
    If the superintendent’s office does not process a notice of intent and update public school systems promptly, an inappropriate truancy investigation may be triggered. This could result in an unnecessary burden to both district staff and parents.
  • Reference: HEAV Law Flowchart, HEAV’s Information for School Personnel, HEAV’s 2023 Letter to Superintendents, HEAV’s Notice of Intent Form, Compulsory Attendance Law, Home Instruction Law

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Charles City

The HEAV legislative team reached out to the district to address website text that seemed to indicate parents were required to use the district’s NOI form. Further, the district’s NOI form included data fields that went beyond the statutory requirements as well as NOI option (iii) information that was inconsistent with VDOE guidance.

HEAV received a prompt and friendly response from the superintendent to advise they were working to ensure the website and all documents were updated to reflect the district’s policy. The superintendent also thanked HEAV for our continued partnership with Virginia school districts and Charles City County Public Schools. HEAV has confirmed the items of concern have been corrected. We are thankful to Charles City for this positive response.

What You Should Know:

  • Parents may wish to use HEAV’s NOI form as it is consistent with the law, case law, and VDOE guidance.
  • The law does not require parents to fill out district forms or provide personal data beyond what the statute allows.
  • The law states parents notifying under option (iii) must submit evidence they are providing the child, “with a program of study or curriculum, which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.”
  • The Virginia Department of Education provides the following guidance for option (iii): “If the child is enrolled in a correspondence course or distance learning program, the parent must submit evidence of such enrollment and a list of the subjects to be studied for the coming year to the school division; however, no judgment of the materials is required of the school division superintendent. If the teaching parent provides a program of study or curriculum that is delivered through any other manner, a list of the courses to be studied for the coming year must be submitted to the school division. Submission of these materials is for information purposes only.”
  • Reference: HEAV Law Flowchart, HEAV’s Notice Of Intent Form, HEAV Q&A: Birth Dates and Grade Levels On District NOI Forms, Virginia Supreme Court: Sosebee v. Franklin County School Board, VDOE 2023 Home Instruction Handbook, Compulsory Attendance Law, Home Instruction Law

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

King George County

The HEAV legislative team reached out to the superintendent after identifying several concerns located on the district’s website and notice of intent form. We addressed instances where district resources were inconsistent with the law, a directive for parents to follow a particular office processing preference or risk having their legal homeschool documents discarded, and an instruction for parents not to send homeschool documents via certified mail or they may either not be received or processing may be delayed.

After several months and follow-up inquiries, HEAV is pleased to report we have seen positive updates on the district’s website and NOI form. All items of concern have been addressed. HEAV is thankful to King George for ensuring the information provided to parents is consistent with the law and best practices.

What You Should Know:

  • It is not uncommon for district resources to be inconsistent with the law. HEAV believes it is essential for each parent to know the law for themselves. HEAV’s website contains a wealth of information, and HEAV’s NOI form is consistent with the law, VDOE guidance, and case law.
  • In Sosebee vs. Franklin County, Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons states, “The power to amend statutes is the power to make law; that power rests squarely and solely with the General Assembly, not school boards.”
  • Parents are required to comply with the law. Once they have done so, HEAV believes it is the responsibility of each public school district to ensure legal, homeschool documents are processed properly in the district office and to receive and provide signatures for mail delivered to the published mailing address.
  • The law does not require parents to comply with office processing preferences including preferred submission dates, submission formats, or delivery methods.
  • The compulsory attendance law applies to “…any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the eighteenth birthday.”
  • The law requires parents to submit an annual notice of intent by August 15th and annual evidence of progress by August 1st.
  • The law does not indicate parents must provide their child’s date of birth when notifying the school board of their decision to delay enrollment; the compulsory attendance law is based on a child’s age as of September 30th.
  • The law indicates home Instruction is a way to comply with compulsory attendance law whereas religious exemption is an exemption from compulsory attendance law.
  • The law states parents notifying under option (iii) must submit evidence they are providing the child, “with a program of study or curriculum, which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner.”
  • The Virginia Department of Education provides the following guidance for option (iii): “If the child is enrolled in a correspondence course or distance learning program, the parent must submit evidence of such enrollment and a list of the subjects to be studied for the coming year to the school division; however, no judgment of the materials is required of the school division superintendent. If the teaching parent provides a program of study or curriculum that is delivered through any other manner, a list of the courses to be studied for the coming year must be submitted to the school division. Submission of these materials is for information purposes only.” (Reference: VDOE Home Instruction Handbook, p. 5)
  • Reference: 7 Steps to Begin Homeschooling In Virginia, Notifying Under Option (iii), HEAV Law Flowchart, HEAV’s Information For School Personnel, HEAV’s 2023 Letter to Superintendents, HEAV’s Notice Of Intent Form, Virginia Supreme Court: Sosebee v. Franklin County School Board, VDOE 2023 Home Instruction Handbook, Compulsory Attendance Law, Home Instruction Law

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.

Shenandoah County

A parent, who knew home instruction did not require approval, expressed concern that the district was using the phrase, “approval is granted for you to homeschool” on its homeschool acknowledgement letter. Upon further investigation, the HEAV legislative team also found the district incorrectly indicted the requirement for the description of curriculum was a “Program of Studies – list of classes.” After reaching out to the district with these concerns, HEAV was pleased to learn they chose to consult their attorney to ensure accuracy in their communications to parents.

After two months of inquiry, HEAV was advised by the supervisor of student support services simply that, “We have made the necessary changes.” HEAV is thankful for Shenandoah’s response to these concerns, and we are hopeful parents will see positive changes and accurate information communicated in the future on their NOI acknowledgement letters.

What You Should Know:

HEAV is always available should you ever have questions or need assistance. Please contact us anytime at 804-278-9200 or via our contact form.

Patricia Beahr
HEAV Assistant Director of Government Affairs

‌Read more about school district incidents here.