Virginia DMV discrimination ends
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) enacted an extra security measure, effective September 23, requiring additional proof of residency before issuing driver's licenses and learner's permits.
Students in public and accredited private schools need only submit a certified copy of school records or a transcript from their school. For home educated students, however, providing proof of residency has been no simple task.
HSLDA sent letters to numerous local DMV offices on behalf of member families confirming the student's enrollment, good standing and full attendance in the home school, and the family's full compliance with Virginia home school law.
In most cases, the local DMV then insisted home schoolers ask the local public school superintendent to issue a form stating that the family has filed a notice of intent or a religious exemption. Many home schooling families had difficulty obtaining this form.
On March 11, HSLDA Senior Counsel Christopher J. Klicka spoke with Karen Ruby, Director of Driver's Services, at DMV headquarters in Richmond to discuss the September 23 policy. Klicka pointed out that Virginia law governing the licensure of drivers requires only a letter from the parent certifying the child's compliance with the compulsory attendance law.
HSLDA received an amended DMV policy on March 14 that specifically states: "Applicants under age 19 can have a parent or legal guardian certify their Virginia residency." In order to do this, the parent/guardian must appear in person with the applicant. The parent/guardian must provide a photo identification card and proof of his own Virginia residency with a document from the residency list, such as a cancelled check, a Virginia vehicle registration, a utility bill, a receipt for personal property taxes or real estate taxes, a deed or mortgage, etc.
If local DMV offices follow the amended policy, home schoolers should no longer find proof of residency requirements standing in the way of their teens obtaining driver's licenses. If, however, any members encounter a problem, please let us know.
- Scott A. Woodruff
Social worker class links religion to abuse
On March 5, 2002, I attended Virginia Continuing Legal Education (CLE) class that is mandatory for guardians ad litem where one of the instructors declared that "religious" families may be more likely to abuse children.
At this particular seminar, lawyers, judicial officials and social workers lectured for seven hours on many aspects of child abuse and the role of the guardian ad litem (an advocate appointed by a judge to represent the child's rights during a neglect proceeding).
Licensed clinical social worker Kathleen Nussbaum delivered a lecture highlighting children's developmental needs and the characteristics of three typical abusive/neglectful family types.
First, Nussbaum described the obviously neglectful family, labeled the "Inadequate Family Type"—characterized by a "chaotic environment with loose or non-existent boundaries and often overt alcohol or drug problems."
The second "neglectful and abusive" family type, as defined by Ms. Nussbaum, is completely offensive to a large percentage of home schoolers and virtually all people of religious faith. Referencing printed material used in CLE classes for all guardians ad litem in Virginia, she depicted the "Religious and Authoritarian Family Type" as having "A strong focus on male entitlement, with strong church involvement. Parents are frequently elders or ministers in their church, and they use their religious authority, as well as Scripture, to maintain control."
Finally, Ms. Nussbaum characterized the "Rigid and Controlling Family Type" as having "rigid, non-permeable, external boundaries" and "extremely high expectations of their children."
Based on HSLDA's experience defending home schooling families over the last 19 years, a large percentage consider themselves "religious" and have strong church involvement. Those who categorize themselves as Christian generally live by biblical commands that instruct fathers to be the head of their household by "providing for their needs," "loving their wives," and "bringing their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Many social workers wrongly interpret this as an "authoritarian" and oppressive family structure dangerous for children.
After representing thousands of home schooling families in child welfare investigations, it is amazing to me finally see in writing where the prejudice of social workers originates.
- Christopher J. Klicka