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6/23/2005 5:07:50 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Prince William County School Board Abolishes 3-day Waiting

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 23, 2005


Virginia--Prince William County School Board Abolishes 3-day Waiting
Period


Dear HSLDA member or friend:

Last night the Prince William County school board abolished a
never-enforced but occasionally problematic regulation requiring
families to wait 3 days before removing their children from public
school in order to provide home instruction.

Last week I learned that the Prince William County School Board was
scheduled to vote to change their homeschool regulations. The change
was on the "consent agenda," which meant that it would be voted on
with no discussion, along with a dozen other non-controversial issues.

At my request, the school board staff faxed me a copy of the proposal
as soon as it was publicly available. As I examined it, I found that
it made 3 significant changes. One of the changes was positive and
two were negative.

The positive change concerned the removal of the preposterous language
that made it appear that families had to wait 3 days before starting
to homeschool. HSLDA has consistently advised our members to ignore
this unlawful policy, and no family has ever been prosecuted for
ignoring it (to our knowledge), but it has been occasionally used to
harass families.

The first negative change removed the flexible filing period for
families in transition. Under state law, families who start
homeschooling during the year, or move into the school district, are
allowed the flexibility of filing their notice of intent to homeschool
"as soon as practicable." This is a good rule because these families
in transition are dealing with many issues, and it can be easy to miss
a deadline. The proposed regulation abolished the "as soon as
practicable" flexible deadline and replaced it with a hard and fast
"five school day" deadline. This contradicted state law and could have
hurt families.

The second negative change would have required families to submit an
additional notice. State law requires families to file their notice of
intent with the superintendent. The proposed regulation, however,
would require families to notify "the base school" of their intention
to homeschool. In order to comply with state law families would still
need to notify the superintendent, but to satisfy the regulation they
would also need to notify the base school. Therefore, families would
be faced with providing 2 notices rather than 1!

On Thursday I called the attorney for the school board to explain my
concerns. She understood them. On Friday we talked again. Based on my
concerns, she said she would recommend that the board remove it from
the consent agenda so it could be revised to remove the negative
changes.

On Monday, I spoke with Amy Wilson, the local homeschool mom who, with
a group of like-minded homeschool parents, deserves the credit for
bringing the board to the point of abolishing the 3-day waiting
period. Amy understood my concerns about the two negative changes. We
worked together to develop language we could jointly submit to the
board Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday, I had a conversation with school board member Don
Richardson, who has been supportive of homeschool families. He agreed
that the 3-day waiting period should be removed, and also agreed that
the flexible filing deadline for families in transition should be
preserved, and that families should not be required to submit 2
notices of intent.

On Wednesday, Amy Wilson and I finalized consensus language to fix the
defective proposal and presented it to board member Don Richardson
before the meeting.

At the board meeting last night, during the time for public comment, I
stood up and explained what HSLDA is and our mission and explained
that HSLDA and the group with Amy Wilson had reached a consensus on
how the language should read.

Board Member Don Richardson acknowledged that the proposal was no
longer on the consent agenda. He then submitted a motion to make two
changes to the regulations. The first was to allow homeschool families
to take AP and PSAT tests at the public schools, to line up with a
recent change in state law. The second was to remove the one
troublesome sentence that required the 3-day waiting period.

Two board members, Mr. Latin and Chairperson Beauchamp, did not want
to make even these non-controversial changes last night because the
board's primary attorney had indicated she wanted to offer some
additional analysis, but was unable because she was on vacation. These
two board members made it clear, however, that they were not opposed
to the substance of Mr. Richardson's motion.

After some spirited discussion as to whether the board should wait for
additional input from their primary lawyer (one of the school board's
other attorneys was already present) or take care of the long-running
issue at once, the issue was called. The motion passed 6 to 2, with
the only opposing votes coming from Beauchamp and Latin.

As of this morning, the 3-day waiting period in Prince William County
has dropped into the dustbin of history, where it should have gone
long ago. And this was accomplished without homeschool families losing
any freedom thanks to fast cooperative work among many people over the
last several days.

Over 320 homeschool families are current members of HSLDA in Prince
William County. It is our joy to serve them in this way. We hope we
continue to earn their confidence.


Sincerely,

Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Staff Attorney
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