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4/1/2010 5:09:21 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Warren County & Prince William County Religious Exemption Policy

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Virginia--Warren County & Prince William County Religious Exemption
Policy

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends in Warren County:

With the issue of the religious exemption receiving significant
attention, you may occasionally hear people asserting matters as truth
when the reality is far different.

For example, you may hear that the March 11 religious exemption policy
(which has been suspended) is similar to the policy of Prince William
County (PW), and that PW's policy has withstood a test in the Virginia
Supreme Court. A person asserting this probably wants you to conclude
that if Warren County just copies PW's policy, all will be well.

But here's the rest of the story.

In the Virginia Supreme Court case of Johnson v. Prince William
County, which HSLDA handled for the homeschool family, it was
exasperatingly difficult to tell exactly what the PW policy WAS.
School board representatives contradicted each other. Sometimes they
said a religious exemption would not be acknowledged if a family's
beliefs could be accommodated by home instruction or private
schooling. Sometimes they said just the opposite--that the exemption
would be acknowledged if the family ONLY showed they had religious
objections to public school attendance.

And since not even the Supreme Court knew what the PW policy was for
sure, they addressed it both ways. The Court said that it would NOT
be lawful for PW to demand that families prove that home instruction
or private schooling could not accommodate their beliefs. And the
Court said that the proper way is to consider ONLY whether a family
has religious, conscientious objections to public school attendance.

So if you are told that PW's policy "withstood a Supreme Court
challenge," this is true only to the extent that the PW policy did not
require a family to show lack of accommodation through home
instruction or private schooling. But in that case, the suspended
Warren County March 11 policy is quite different from the PW policy,
since the March 11 policy required parents to show a lack of
accommodation. In other words, the practice that "withstood a Supreme
Court challenge" was exactly opposite of the March 11 policy.

And not long after the Johnson decision was issued, PW changed its
religious exemption policy. Today it contains no requirement that a
family show that other forms of education would not accommodate their
beliefs.

Sincerely Yours,


Scott A. Woodruff,
Senior Counsel

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-> How long are you in for?

Some families are facing what seems like a lifelong commitment to
homeschooling, with children at both ends of the spectrum -- some
graduating and some just reaching school age. If you're going to
be "in" for a while, consider a lifetime membership with HSLDA.
It's a good deal for families with more than 10 years of
homeschooling ahead.

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1936

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