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Virginia

August 31, 2010

County Asks Religiously Exempt Family for Evidence of Ability to Teach

HSLDA member John McQuick (name changed to protect privacy) submitted religious exemption paperwork to Shenandoah County public schools. A school representative subsequently told the McQuicks that their paperwork clearly established their religious convictions, but insisted they must also submit two letters from individuals in the community confirming that the family was able to educate their children.

Surprised by this request, the family contacted HSLDA for help. Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff called the school representative and explained that optional letters from members of the community serve the purpose of confirming that the family is sincere in their religious beliefs, and no other purpose. In order to avoid conflict between government mandates and individual conscience, the state does not have the authority to sit in judgment on a religiously exempt family’s ability to educate their children.

The school system representative quickly agreed that she only needed letters confirming the sincerity of the family’s religious convictions. We appreciate the school system’s cooperative spirit in getting this hitch resolved.