Legislative Summaries

Legislative Sessions Year by Year

Virginia Homeschool Legislation History

Find out what happened each year within the Virginia Legislation and how it affected homeschooling.

2019 Legislative Summary

JROTC for Homeschoolers Fails

HEAV initiated a bill (SB 1275) that would have allowed interested homeschool students to participate in the DoD-funded JROTC programs hosted at local high schools. The bill failed with a tie vote in the House Education Committee.

Loudoun County RE Agenda Change

This same year, HEAV stood against a Loudoun County School Board initiative that may have changed the religious exemption (RE) statue and eroded religious freedoms. This public outcry resulted in the school board removing the potential change from their legislative agenda for 2019.

Sports Access Fails

Homeschool access to public school sports (HB 2102) failed to pass the House Education Committee.

2018 Legislative Summary

Homeschool Statute Option (iii) Change

HEAV added clarifying language (HB 1370) to option (iii) of the homeschool statute stating that a parent may provide “the student with” a program of study or curriculum. This addition addressed an inaccurate interpretation by some superintendents who thought the program of study or curriculum should be provided to the superintendent for his review.

Sports Access Fails
Homeschool access to public school sports (HB 496) failed to pass the House Education Committee.

2017 Legislative Summary

AP and PSAT Notification

HEAV and HSLDA successfully clarified out-of-date language in the Virginia Code regarding AP and PSAT tests (HB 2355), making the tests more accessible to homeschool students. Local school boards are now required to adopt written policies that specify test registration deadlines for homeschool students. School boards are also required to notify homeschool students and their parents of registration deadlines and the availability of financial assistance to low-income and needy students who register.

Sports Access Vetoed
Homeschool access to public school sports (HB 1578) passed the General Assembly and then was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe.

2016 Legislative Summary

Driver Education Protected

HEAV protected the rights of homeschool parents to teach driver education by requesting an exemption for homeschoolers in HB 748. HEAV successfully initiated parent-taught classroom instruction in 1999 and parent-taught behind-the-wheel in 2003. New legislation stated that online driver education courses could only be provided by driver training schools that administer behind-the-wheel exams to students at the end of the course, thus eliminating DMV-approved homeschool courses. This legislation was introduced without considering home-instructed students.

Parent Vaccination Decisions Protected
HEAV also worked with other organizations to defeat a bill (HB 1342) that would have removed a parent’s right to make vaccination decisions for his or her child. The proposed bill would have removed language that historically has given parents and guardians the right to claim a religious exemption against vaccinations, as well as the right to present a medical professional’s statement.

Sports Access Vetoed
Homeschool access to public school sports (HB 131) passed the General Assembly and then was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe.

2015 Legislative Summary

Homeschool Privacy Protected

HEAV initiated and successfully passed a homeschool privacy bill (SB 1383) to protect homeschoolers from being included in the developing Longitudinal Data System. The new law prohibits a division superintendent or local school board from disclosing any information from a Notice of Intent form or religious exemption letter to the Virginia Department of Education or any other person or entity.

Assessment Alternatives
HEAV also partnered with HSLDA to pass legislation (HB 1754, SB 1403) requiring superintendents to accept SAT, ACT, and PSAT tests for yearly assessment requirements in lieu of standardized achievement tests at the high school level.

The Virginia Department of Education or local school board cannot require any student to provide a social security number. HB 1307 was amended by Virginia Homeschoolers to include home-educated students.

Sports Access Vetoed
Homeschool access to public school sports (HB 1626) passed the General Assembly and then was vetoed by Governor McAuliffe.

2014 Legislative Summary

Religious Exemption Study Stopped
HEAV and other homeschool organizations worked together to stop a proposed study of religious exemption (HJ 92). The study would have gathered information pertaining to how school boards determine religious convictions and could have led to changes in the religious exemption statute. HEAV also worked to stop a testing measure (HB 447) that would have required homeschoolers to use the most recently normed standardized achievement tests for yearly assessments. At HEAV’s request, Delegate David Ramadan (R-Dulles) introduced tax credit legislation (HB 239), but it failed to pass. Delegate Rob Bell’s sports-access bill (HB 63) also failed to report out of committee. Read the full summary here.

 2013 Legislative Summary

Two parental rights bills, SB 908, sponsored by Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Fredericksburg) and HB 1642, sponsored by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-James City County) passed the House and Senate.  The two companion bills affirm that “A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” Sports access, HB 1442, passed the House Education committee with amendments, but failed again this year to pass the Senate Health and Education Committee by one vote. HEAV requested Senator Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield) introduce a Joint Resolution proclaiming the month of February as “Home Education Month in Virginia.” He successfully did so, and then drafted and introduced a Joint Resolution recognizing HEAV’s 30th Anniversary! Read full summary here.

2012 Legislative Summary

Curriculum Description Clarified
HEAV initiated two bills to clarify the meaning of a “curriculum description” and establish consistency in all school districts. The new language states that a parent must “provide a description of the curriculum, limited to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year…” Sponsored by Senator Dick Black (SB 564) and Delegate Brenda Pogge (HB 1208), the legislation will go into effect July 1, 2012. During the same session, sports access (patroned by Delegate Rob Bell) passed the House for the first time, but failed by one vote in the Senate Education Committee. A tax-credit for homeschoolers was introduced by Delegate David Ramadan but also failed. Read Full Summary

2011 Legislative Summary

Homeschool Access to Public School Sports
HB 2395 As anticipated again this year, sports access for homeschoolers is a topic of heated discussion in the General Assembly. Both Delegate Robert Bell (R-Charlottesville) and Delegate David Nutter (R-Christiansburg) introduced similar sports access bills which were combined to become HB 2395. (Update January 21, 2011) After passing out of an education subcommittee, sports access for homeschoolers was “passed-by” in the full House Education Committee. Committee chairmanBob Tata (R-Virginia Beach) called for a study of sports access to be conducted in the summer of 2011 with the purpose of seeing how other states handle sports access. (Update Jan. 25, 2011) At the conclusion of the study committee in November, no recommendation was made.  (Update with picture Nov. 22, 2011) Read Full Summary

2010 Legislative Summary

Sports Access for Homeschoolers Fails Again
HB 926 Three bills were introduced directing the Virginia High School League (VHSL) to provide an exception to its rules, which currently prohibit homeschooled students from participating in interscholastic sports. All three bills, patroned by Delegates Carrico, Bell, and Nutter, were rolled into one. It was continued to 2011 with a recommendation that the VHSL use the time between sessions to work with homeschoolers to find an equitable solution. FAILED (Update April 28, 2010) Read Full Summary

2009 Legislative Summary

State Financial Aid Available for Homeschool Graduates
SB 1547 Homeschool graduates who are accepted to Virginia colleges can qualify for federal financial aid and some state funds. Now, thanks to Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) they can also receive money from the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program (VGAP). The VGAP is a need- and merit-based undergraduate grant program. The program’s average yearly awards in ’07-’08 were $3,671 for a community college student and $3,848 for a four-year college student. PASSED (Update March 2, 2009) Read Full Summary

2008 Legislative Summary

LYNCHBURG CONSIDERS RELIGIOUS-EXEMPTION POLICY
Lynchburg City Public Schools considered a new religious-exemption policy that would require children of parents claiming a religious exemption to sign a form stating they had conscientious religious objections to attendance at public school. The proposal required the signature of ALL CHILDREN, regardless of their ages. A university law student contacted HEAV to report his constitutional law professor’s concern. HEAV board member and Lynchburg-area resident Rick Boyer spoke in opposition to the proposal. Based on a letter of explanation from Scott Woodruff of HSLDA and opposition testimony at the school board meeting, the board decided no child would be required to sign the form. (Update March 17, 2008) Read Full Summary

2007 Legislative Summary

Religious Freedom
HB 3082 Patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) and promoted by Home School Legal Defense, this bill will codify an expanded view of religious liberty. The bill is similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and similar to legislation passed in twenty other states to protect religious freedom. It puts the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into the state code, ensuring that religious liberty will only be restricted if it 1) furthers a compelling government interest and 2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. PASSED (Update Feb. 28, 2007) Read Full Summary

2006 Legislative Summary

New High School Diploma Option!
HB 1340 Delegate Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville, and SB 499 Senator Phillip Puckett R- Tazewell presented companion bills designed to give homeschooling parents with a high school diploma the same oversight as parents with a college degree. This is a significant change in the homeschool statute. PASSED (Update March 3, 2006) Read Full Summary

2005 Legislative Summary

Interscholastic Sports
HB 1731 Patroned by Delegate Cosgrove, this bill would have required the Virginia High School League to allow nonpublic school students to participate in public school interscholastic sports. HB 1731 was incorporated into HB 2297 (patroned by Delegate Fralin), which was then stricken from the docket at the request of the patron. FAILED (Update Feb. 16, 2005) Read Full Summary

2004 Legislative Summary

Homeschool High School Diploma Bill
HB 675 Patroned by Del. Rob Bell of Charlottesville, this bill will change Option 1 under the homeschool statute requiring a parent to have a baccalaureate degree to homeschool and replace it with a provision allowing a parent with a high school diploma to homeschool his or her children. Over the past 20 years, it has been proven that, regardless of a parent’s educational background, there is very little difference in the child’s scores on national standardized tests.  Furthermore, Virginia is the last state to use the baccalaureate degree as a threshold to homeschool.  Better than 60 percent of states use the high-school diploma.  We would like the General Assembly to bring Virginia more in line with these states. The rest of the states do not use any threshold. After much heated debate, the bill passed the House and Senate, and then was vetoed by Governor Warner.FAILED (Update Feb. 16, 2004) Read Full Summary

2003 Legislative Summary

Parent-Taught Behind-the-Wheel Driver Education
HB 2404 Patroned by Delegate Glenn Oder, this bill will alleviate a difficult situation for homeschoolers: Public schools are not required to offer classes to nonpublic-school students. Often when home-educated students request to take a driver’s education course at a public high school, either they are told “no,” or they are put on a waiting list. If they cannot take the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions at a local high school, they must attend one of Virginia’s commercial driving schools, or find a private school that offers driver’s training. This bill will authorize the commissioner of the DMV to approve parents to teach behind-the-wheel to their home-educated students. Parent-taught, behind-the-wheel instruction would then be part of an approved course.PASSED (Update Feb. 20, 2003) Read Full Summary