May 9, 2005

Perpetual Truancy in Loudoun County?

HSLDA usually has "home court advantage" in Loudoun County, since this is where our national office is located. However, one HSLDA member family recently discovered that threats to homeschool liberty can occur even 15 miles away from HSLDA's office.

The problem started when the Kimble* family had to suddenly move away from Virginia. They withdrew their daughter from public school and planned to homeschool her in their new state of residence. However, due to complications the daughter was not able to stay with her parents in their new home state and returned to spend the rest of the school year with her grandmother in Loudoun County.

As soon as the Loudoun County school district found out that she was back in Virginia, an attendance officer sent a letter to the grandmother threatening to take her to court if she "continued to harbor a truant student."

Mrs. Kimble immediately called HSLDA for help. We advised the grandmother to immediately file a notice of intent to homeschool with Loudoun County Public Schools, which she promptly did.

The school district, however, said they could not accept it because she was not the parent. The attendance officer told HSLDA, "The daughter cannot be homeschooled because her mother has not filed the notice of intent, and she cannot enter the public schools because only a parent can enroll her." If the officer were right, the daughter might have been doomed to perpetual truancy.

However, Virginia school law defines "parent" broadly to include anyone who is in control of or in charge of a child. In the eyes of the law, therefore, the grandmother was a "parent" since she was in charge of the girl.

After further discussion with HSLDA, the attendance officer agreed to check with his superiors. They agreed with HSLDA and told the officer that the grandmother could lawfully file the notice of intent. The school district accepted the grandmother's notice of intent, thus ending the threat of truancy charges.

*name changed to protect the family's privacy.