|| LEGAL/LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
ACROSS THE STATES
Nottoway drops unconstitutional demand
In August 2004, a Nottoway County family found that they had joined Home School Legal Defense Association just in time.
After the family filed for a religious exemption from compulsory attendance, as allowed under Virginia law, their superintendent told them that unless their pastor said a "church rule" required them to homeschool, they could not receive the exemption.
HSLDA wrote to the superintendent, warning her that the demand was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has said in numerous cases that a citizen's religious beliefs must be protected regardless of whether a particular church shares those beliefs.
After reading HSLDA's letter, the superintendent dropped her demand, and the school board promptly acknowledged the family's religious exemption.
Privacy wins in the Old Dominion
Last fall, HSLDA began a campaign to protect homeschoolers' privacy in Virginia. In letters to school systems whose notice of intent forms asked for Social Security numbers, HSLDA explained that the request violated the Privacy Act of 1974. This federal law prohibits a government agency from requesting a Social Security number unless it is specifically required under law or is clearly listed as optional.
Some school systems responded immediately and cleaned up their forms. Others dragged their feet and received follow-up letters from HSLDA. Nearly every school system has now complied with the law either by removing the Social Security number request or by indicating that it is optional.
Identity theft is increasing dramatically. Your Social Security number may be the key that allows an unscrupulous person to access your bank account or medical records. It is private, it is valuable, and it warrants watchful protection.
Although homeschool families are not required to use the forms created by Virginia school systems, those forms must comply with the law.* If you encounter any form that gives you the option of providing your Social Security number, we recommend that you not divulge it.
Suffolk accepts transcript
This past August, an HSLDA member family submitted a Brigham Young University Independent Study program transcript to their school district in Suffolk County . The family's daughter had excellent grades, showing that she was achieving more than the adequate level of educational growth and progress that Virginia law requires.
The assistant superintendent, however, initially refused to accept the transcript as evidence of progress. He wrote the family three letters, repeatedly demanding that they provide test scores or some other evidence of academic achievement.
HSLDA sent the superintendent a letter explaining that the transcript proved the family's daughter was a stellar student. The superintendent would not yield. HSLDA followed up with a letter posing a simple question: "What is it about Brigham Young University that leads you to believe that the transcript is not adequate?"
The following day, the superintendent reconsidered and accepted the transcript as evidence of progress.
by Scott A. Woodruff
* See "A plethora of forms".