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West Virginia

August 11, 2011

Monongalia County Superintendent: New State Policy “In The Works”

Sign up for Mike Donnelly’s Free Webinar

HSLDA appreciates hearing from many homeschoolers about this issue, and we encourage you to stay informed. To help you, Donnelly will host a free online interactive seminar on September 8 at 2:00 p.m. (E.T.) entitled “A Call to Action!—Is More Oversight Coming to Mountaineer Homeschooling?”

You can sign up online at HSLDA’s @home e-vents website. This event is open to all and HSLDA encourages you to let all West Virginia homeschoolers know about this important event.

John Carey, CHEWV legislative liaison, will also be participating in the webinar.

Homeschoolers in Monongalia County who attended the county board of education meeting on August 9 were pleased when they heard that a proposed policy which implied that homeschooling was disorganized and isolationist was being tabled. However, homeschoolers were warned that this was only until a new state board policy is written. The county would then proceed to write a policy that conformed to it.

Homeschoolers in attendance reported that some members of the board of education were unaware of the development of a new policy. Board members also listened attentively and politely as several homeschooling families presented concerns about language in the proposed policy. The board president reportedly indicated she was surprised anyone would suggest parents did not have a right to choose to homeschool their children. One person reported that a county superintendent expressed frustration over the amount of feedback received on the subject from area homeschoolers and from a “national-level organization.”

HSLDA Staff Attorney for West Virginia member affairs, Michael Donnelly, wrote to the board of education cautioning them about developing an unnecessary policy and about characterizing homeschooling as disorganized and isolating.

Donnelly also expressed growing concern about indications that West Virginia education officials may be developing a new statewide “policy” on homeschooling. Earlier this year HSLDA reported that West Virginia’s new superintendent of education said homeschoolers needed more oversight.

He wrote: “West Virginia homeschool law is quite clear about the requirements for parents to homeschool their children, and no state or local policy is needed—local officials simply need to enforce the law. It also does not appear that the state legislature has authorized the state board to promulgate rules or regulations regarding homeschooling in West Virginia. In fact, if there is any change needed, it in the area of deregulation—not increased regulation.”

Donnelly continued: “We’ve heard from several sources about this proposed new state policy, and we are working closely with the state level homeschool group (Christian Home Educators of West Virginia) to develop a strategy to oppose any new regulation of homeschooling in West Virginia.”

It is a good idea for homeschoolers in West Virginia to contact their state legislators about the facts regarding home education. By developing a relationship with legislators, families can put a face on homeschooling. This makes it easier to have productive dialogues when opposing new regulations. HSLDA will coordinate with CHEWV and others to reach out to state educational leaders and help them understand it would be a waste of time and resources to develop a new policy regarding homeschooling. State educational leaders should focus instead on West Virginia’s struggling public school system, which is often ranked at or near the bottom of lists of educational performance in the United States. It is a waste to invest time, energy and money to develop new policies to oversee a tiny percentage of the school-age population that is by all accounts excelling. Since the homeschooling law is working tolerably, the common sense approach would be to simply leave it alone.