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West Virginia

Mercer and Wood Add Requirements

This summer, many Mercer County home school families received a letter stating that “Since we have not heard from you this year [concerning home schooling], we assume [your children] will be attending public school.” This letter seemed to imply that the families had missed some unspoken deadline for filing a notice of intent.

On behalf of Home School Legal Defense Association members, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff explained to Mercer County Public Schools that there is no specific deadline for filing. In response, school officials have acknowledged that there is no such deadline and regret any anxiety the letter caused.

Another school district recently made several inappropriate and unlawful demands on home school families. Wood County Public School System asked families to use a specific notice of intent form; told families they must teach various grade levels for certain total minutes per day; told them that the state board of education had authority to determine what subjects were taught at certain grade levels; and even provided detailed charts as to what must be taught at specific times.

West Virginia Code § 18283(d) provides for testing in the area of grammar, reading, social studies, and mathematics. There is no other basis in law for any other required subjects, particular timing, or sequence.

Academic Assessments for First Grade

West Virginia law requires an annual assessment of academic performance. For those who conduct the assessment by a standardized test, the test must cover language, reading, social studies, science, and mathematics. It is common practice in West Virginia, however, for first graders not to be tested in social studies and science. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills does not include those tests for first grade. If five subtests are required by law, but only three are given, and the average on those three is below the 40th percentile, is a remedial program necessary? This was the situation in which a Mercer County home school family recently found itself. HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff advised the Mercer County Public Schools that such a remedial program cannot be required when based only on the performance of three of the required five state subtests.

No Other Form Required

In late July, a Parkersburg member family filed a proper notice of intent. Shortly after that, they were surprised to receive a letter from Superintendent Daniel Curry, instructing them to file a notice of intent on the school’s own form.

West Virginia law does not require that the notice of intent be filed on any particular form. Based on HSLDA’s advice, this family declined to fill out another form.