January 2, 2012

Arlington Stumbles on Switch from Exemption to Notice of Intent

The Chris Estrella family (name changed to protect privacy) was homeschooling under Virginia’s religious exemption statute when they decided to switch to the notice of intent option.

The Estrellas filed a proper notice of intent and expected things to move smoothly. But they received a letter from Arlington Public Schools saying that “home instruction for your student has not been approved for the 2011–2012 school year due to incomplete records.” The letter said that the missing record was evidence of academic progress for the previous year, 2010–2011.

Members of Home School Legal Defense Association, the Estrellas asked for help. HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff called Arlington Public Schools. He explained that the family did not need to submit evidence of academic progress for 2010–2011 since the student was under religious exemption that year. (Under the religious exemption option, families are not required to submit evidence of progress.)

Soon thereafter, the school system called the Estrellas and said their homeschool program had been “approved.” We appreciate the school system’s tacit recognition that they erred in demanding progress records while the student was exempt. We hope for the day when Arlington also recognizes that under Virginia law, families who wish to homeschool do not need to obtain the prior approval of the school system.