Local school division policies on homeschooling vary considerably across Virginia. While all school divisions must comply with state law, they are allowed great latitude when determining local policy on access to public school classes, programs, and services, transfer students, and various other issues which state law does not directly address. The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers strongly recommends that all homeschooling parents become familiar with the written policies and regulations on homeschooling in their particular school division.
Locating Homeschooling Policies in Your Community
Every school division in Virginia is required by law to have a “policy manual”. A typical policy manual is several hundred pages long and includes everything you ever wanted to know about the daily operations of a school division. If your school division has any formal written policies about homeschoolers, it will be somewhere in this manual.
School divisions are required by law to make their policy manuals available to the public. Approximately 50% of Virginia school divisions now have their policy manuals available online, at their school division website. The Virginia Department of Education maintains a listing of all division websites. The policy manual may be found under “School Board”, “administration”, “policies”, or a variety of other places. Many online policy manuals require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
If you cannot access the policy manual electronically, try locating a paper copy of the policy manual at your local public library, the library of your local public school, or your local school board office. Some school divisions will give out free CD-ROM copies of the policy manual upon request.
Please consult your local policy manual before contacting your local school division with questions about local homeschooling policy.School employees and administrators are usually not a good resource for information on local homeschooling policies. They frequently are not familiar with the policies in their school division, and have been known to provide information which is inconsistent with formal policy. Also, phone calls from curious homeschoolers can actually cause school divisions to create new policies where none existed before. These new policies may be far less friendly than whatever existed before – and far harder to change.
I Found the Policy Manual. Where Are the Homeschooling Policies?
Every policy manual is unique, and the policies on homeschooling may be hidden in several different places. Be prepared to do a little detective work to find what you need.
Note: Occasionally, school divisions do not have formal written homeschooling policies. If you try all the following strategies and still cannot find what you seek, contact your local school division for more information.
- Most policy manuals are organized either by letters (A, B, C, etc.) or numbers (policy 7.22, policy 8-10, etc.). Homeschooling policies are generally in one or more of the following sections:
- Instruction (I)
- Students (J)
- School/Community (K)
- Education/Agency Relations (L)
- If they use a letter scheme, most school divisions put their Home Instruction policy under either LBD or IGBD or IGBH or something similar.
- If they use a letter scheme, most school divisions put their Part-Time Enrollment Policy (either pro or con) under JECB.
- Check through the sections for “Instruction” and “Students” very carefully, and carefully review the “Attendance” and “Admissions” policies. Short policies (only a paragraph or two) on part-time enrollment or transferring into public school are often hidden in these sections.
- Use the index to the policy manual to double-check your findings, but don’t rely on it too heavily, because it is often incomplete.
- Don’t forget to check the “regulations” sections, if they exist. The “regulations” may go into much more detail than the “policies”.
Learn More about homeschooling advocacy: Homeschool Advocacy: Step by Step
For more information on Virginia homeschooling legal and political issues, please contact VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs.
The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.