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December 12, 2016

The doctor pictured here has no say in whether or not you can homeschool.

Yes, Virginia, You Can Homeschool Without a Doctor’s Note

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Virginia parents don’t need a doctor’s note to homeschool, regardless of what ill-informed public school officials may tell them.

SCOTT WOODRUFF
Contact attorney for Virginia

This issue came up recently in early November when a mom decided that her daughter wasn’t being treated right in the King and Queen County public school system and wrote a proper notice of intent to homeschool. She handed the notice, along with a copy of her high school diploma, to the school district attendance secretary. The secretary told her she needed to talk to the homeschool coordinator about getting her notice approved.

The following day the mom told the secretary at her daughter’s school that she was withdrawing her daughter. The secretary said there was no need to file a letter of withdrawal because the school board had not yet approved the mom’s notice of intent to homeschool.

On November 16, the homeschool coordinator told the mom that she could not homeschool because she had missed the August 15 deadline for filing a notice of intent and she didn’t have the proper qualifications to teach. However, the coordinator said, if the mom would submit a letter from a doctor saying her daughter needed to be homeschooled, the coordinator would ask the board to make an exception.

So the mom asked her child’s doctor to write a letter of support. But that same day, the school system’s “attendance committee” sent her a letter warning her about unexcused absences and stating that the school division attendance officer was now involved.

Frustrated by these difficulties, the mom then applied to join HSLDA and asked us to help. Senior Counsel Scott A. Woodruff called the homeschool coordinator and had a friendly conversation in which he gave her a quick summary of Virginia’s home instruction statute.

He explained that:

  1. a notice of intent is effective immediately upon filing and families do not need approval,
  2. families can start homeschooling even after August 15, and
  3. a letter from a doctor is never needed to homeschool.

The homeschool coordinator said she understood and appreciated Woodruff’s explanation.

Since the mom’s high school diploma is the only qualification she needs, we believe she will encounter no further difficulties homeschooling her daughter.