|| LEGAL/LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
ACROSS THE STATES
Loudoun County reverses probation
In late August, the Loudoun County school system notified a member family that their son, Zach*, would be on probation because his test scores fell below the 23rd percentile. County officials informed the family that they would have to file a remedial plan and might be required to stop homeschooling if acceptable progress were not shown by next year.
The family promptly called our office for assistance. Upon examining the test results, it became clear that the school system had erroneously focused only on the "total math" score, which was in fact too low. The composite score, however, was acceptable because of higher reading and language scores. A family may be placed on probation only if the composite score itself is below the 23rd percentile.
When Home School Legal Defense Association pointed out this problem, school officials promptly recognized their error and withdrew the threat of probation.
Certified to teach, licensed to confuse
Virginia homeschoolers are blessed to have several options under which they may homeschool their children. Two of them, however, are superficially very similar, sometimes resulting in confusion.
Recently, a Carroll County member family filed a notice of instruction under a qualified tutor or teacher, referring to Code of Virginia § 22.1-254 (A) as the basis of their notice. This statute provides that the compulsory attendance law is satisfied when a student is taught under a certified tutor or teacher. It does not require an annual notice or evidence of progress.
In response, however, the school system sent the family a "homeschool" packet and erroneously asked them to submit a progress report at the end of the year. The school system obviously misunderstood and was treating the family as if they were operating under the certified teacher option of the home school statute, § 22.1-254.1(A)(ii). Under this option, annual notice and evidence of progress is required.
HSLDA contacted the school system and explained the error. The assistant superintendent for instruction quickly realized the mistake and apologized. The family will not be required to file annually or submit evidence of progress.
Code of Virginia—Compulsory School Attendance
§ 22.1-254. Compulsory attendance required; excuses and waivers; alternative education program attendance; exemptions from article.-
A. Except as otherwise provided in this article, every parent . . . shall . . . have such child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent or provide for home instruction of such child as described in § 22.1-254.1.
§ 22.1-254.1. Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children.—A. . . . Any parent . . . may elect to provide home instruction . . . if he (i) holds a baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution of higher education, or (ii) is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education; or (iii) has enrolled the child . . . in a correspondence course approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction; or (iv) provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education. . . .
B. Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify the division superintendent in August of his intention. . . .
- Scott A. Woodruff
* Name changed to protect family's privacy.