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September 8, 2017

District: You Can’t Homeschool Until You Submit a Birth Certificate, Proof You Live Here

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SCOTT WOODRUFF
Contact attorney for Virginia

The Franklin County Public School district is threatening homeschool families who do not submit a birth certificate for each child listed on their notice of intent, and documents corroborating that the family lives at the address on their notice of intent.

One family asked HSLDA for help after receiving a letter stating that they must submit those documents to “complete the child’s home school enrollment.” But there is no such thing as “home school enrollment,” and Virginia law does not require families to submit a birth certificate or evidence (other than the address on the notice of intent) of where they live.

When I challenged those unlawful demands, a school system representative responded that the family’s homeschool “application is denied” until they comply. There is, however, no such thing as a homeschool “application,” and the notice of intent can’t be “denied” because it is not a request!

In Virginia Code §22.1-254.1 (the home instruction statute), the Virginia General Assembly has said, in effect, that school districts must accept statements on the notice of intent as to residence and parentage at face value—that school districts must presume parents are honorable people.

The Franklin policy turns this premise on its heads. It presumes, in effect, that homeschool parents are incipient liars.

Fortunately, school boards have no authority to add their own idiosyncratic demands to state law. But unfortunately, the Franklin County School Board recently put those unlawful demands into their formal homeschool policy (Policy LBD). It could take a while for them to correct their error. This may be a long fight.

Meanwhile, I strongly urge HSLDA member families to stand united and strong, and refuse to submit to these unlawful demands. Acquiescence would only encourage further encroachments.

I would be happy to give one-on-one guidance to any HSLDA member family who would like to have advice tailored to their own situation.