August 16, 2007

Washington County Refuses to Stop Misleading Families

A Home School Legal Defense Association member wishing to remain anonymous out of concern for retaliation recently received a letter demanding that her notice of intent be filed by August 1. The letter was from the Director of Academic Operations for Washington County Public Schools in Abingdon, Virginia.

She called HSLDA for help. We explained that the school system was in error, and that a notice of intent is due August 15. We also asked her to send us the letter and form that she received from the school district.

Upon reviewing the documents, HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff found that the erroneous due date for the notice of intent was not the only problem. The letter said that the school system’s form must be used. This is incorrect. No form is needed at all, and certainly not the school system’s form.

The form had the family say, “I am requesting authorization” to homeschool. Families do not need to request authorization. They simply need to provide notice.

The form asked for the birth date of the children. This is not required under law. A birth date is a vital part of one’s identity. To reduce the risk of identity theft, it should not be given out unless required under law or for other compelling reasons.

The form had the family say, “I wish to be recognized as eligible to provide home instruction.” Families are not required to be “recognized as eligible.” They simply need to file their notice.

The form asked the family to “agree to comply with applicable policies and procedures.” Families are not required to agree to this. The form did not even specify which “policies and procedures” the school system wanted the family to follow!

Some claim there is a wall of separation between church and state. The real wall, however, is between the family and the state. Part of that wall is made of laws that limit the reach of officials yearning to expand their power.

Attorney Woodruff wrote a detailed letter to the public school official explaining how the letter and form made demands and assertions he is not empowered to make under state law. The official agreed to change the letter to reflect a due date of August 15, but refused to make any other changes. The letter and form will continue to mislead families.

Under “Members,” then “Forms & Resources,” HSLDA’s website contains a notice of intent form that includes only the information that is required under law. We recommend that families use this form rather than forms developed by school systems.