VaHomeschoolers has been made aware of at least two school divisions who have recently changed their policies regarding the filing of the Notice of Intent (NOI) required of families homeschooling under the home instruction statute. Some of the new requirements are exceeding what is required by law.
Hampton City Schools
The Hampton City school board has revised both their form for requesting a Religious Exemption (RE) and their NOI form and are now requiring that homeschoolers use these new revamped forms.
While the new RE form does have some areas of concern which will need to be addressed, the new NOI form and related policy is especially problematic in that it requires more of homeschool families than specified by the law. Two examples include a requirement to have parents have the NOI form notarized and the requirement that all NOIs be submitted using the new form. While the forms provided by the local school division may be a convenient method of notification for both parents and the school division employees who receive and process those forms, there is no requirement in the statute that any particular form be used. The Virginia Department of Education specifically states that a letter from the parent is an acceptable form of notification.
Given the approaching NOI deadline and the number of people affected, we wanted to focus on getting these issues resolved as quickly as possible. We have been in contact with Dr. Copeland, Coordinator of School Social Work Services for the Hampton City school division who was very cordial and heard our concerns. Unfortunately, after a discussion with the division’s attorney, Dr. Copeland’s response is that the school division believes that its new form is “appropriate and correct under the law” and will remain unchanged. VaHomeschoolers continues to pursue this matter, and is seeking additional dialogue with Hampton City Schools. We will provide updates as we get more information.
At this point, given the short time frame involved, we are recommending that homeschool families in Hampton City continue to file their NOIs as they have in past years.
We have also received reports of school officials in Buckingham County requesting that homeschoolers make an appointment for the parents and their children to meet with school officials to fill out paperwork and answer questions. While the law allows for dialoguing with students in granting religious exemption, no meeting with parents or students is required by law under the home instruction statute. We are currently in the process of contacting school division officials and will provide updates as we get more information.
Again, given the short time frame involved, we are recommending that homeschool families in Buckingham County continue to file their NOIs as they have in past years.
We Need Your Help
We are asking that if any families encounter changed procedures/forms in other school divisions that they contact Government Affairs.
These changes appear to have roots in the recent concerns expressed in the media and the General Assembly regarding additional accountability for homeschool families who file a Religious Exemption (RE) to the compulsory attendance statute. As always, VaHomschoolers remains diligent and will work to support and protect homeschooling freedoms for all families.
Don’t Forget! Deadlines Approaching
August 1st is the deadline for filing your evidence of progress for the 2013 – 2014 school year
August 15th is the deadline for filing your Notice of Intent for the 2014 – 2015 school year.
If you need a refresher for what to included, visit our Comprehensive Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia for all the details.
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