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)
Withdrawal from Public School and Testing Choices
HB 1483 Delegate Bob Tata, R-Virginia Beach, has drafted legislation that will increase options for parents filing under option (iv) of the homeschool statute, and clarify the language regarding mid-year withdrawal of children from public school. It will also allow homeschoolers to meet the option (i) testing requirement by using ANY nationally normed standardized achievement test. In previous years, homeschoolers were subject to use the tests approved by the State Board of Education. This gives homeschoolers greater flexibility in the selection of tests. PASSED (Update March 3, 2006)
PSAT and AP Tests Available
HB 1588 Delegate Brian Moran – Alexandria, will require school districts to make the Advanced Placement (AP) and Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) examinations available to homeschooled students. This bill clarifies last year’s legislation, which required school districts to notify homeschoolers of the availability of these tests. Some school districts interpreted this language as not requiring them to administer the tests. This will require school districts to notify and make these tests available to homeschool students. PASSED (Update March 3, 2006)
Curriculum Notification Stopped!
HB 537 Delegate Harry Parrish – Prince William, Manassas would have required homeschool parents to notify the division superintendent anytime their curriculum changed during the school year. It also gave the Division Superintendent new authority to terminate home instruction at any time if he “perceived” a lack of progress. HEAV aggressively opposed this bill, meeting with Del. Parrish and other delegates on the House Education Committee and the Subcommittee on Students and Daycare. FAILED (Update Jan. 31, 2006)
HEAV has attended numerous meetings across the Commonwealth during the past few months pertaining to IDEIA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. In each school district, a small amount of the school budget has been set aside to provide services for special-needs private school and homeschool students. It was determined that speech and language services would be the most effective services to provide since they were deemed critical for literacy. The allotted funds would generally allow each school division to serve less than a dozen private school and homeschool students. Private and homeschooled students with disabilities have no individual entitlement to receive some or all of the special education and related services that students would receive if enrolled in a pubic school. While schools are required under IDEIA to identify children with disabilities, parents are not required to submit to evaluations against their wishes. IDEIA regulates the actions of schools, not individual citizens.” (Update June 20, 2006)
Virtual Schools vs. Homeschools
The Virginia Department of Education was unaware of the development of a virtual school in Virginia until homeschool representatives meet with the VDOE. The VDOE was dismayed that a virtual school, funded by taxpayer money, was in place without their knowledge. The VDOE clarified an important question—students participating in the Nelson County Academy of Virtual Learning or any other virtual school will be considered public school students, not homeschoolers. (Update Nov. 16, 2006)
Renewed Discussion of Interscholastic Sports Access
Participation in public school sports has been a long-standing issue for some homeschooling parents. A meeting was called by the Virginia High School League to build relationships among the key players. HEAV representatives first met with VHSL about 10 years ago to discuss the VHSL’s policies prohibiting homeschool participation. HEAV submitted a proposal for the VHSL board to consider. They tabled the recommendation. Many times since, individual parents have contacted their legislators asking them to propose legislation that would compel VHSL to amend its policy. In past years, several bills have been introduced, but failed to move out of their respective committees. (Update Nov. 16, 2006)