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West Virginia

November 18, 2014

“Homeschoolers Don’t Work as Hard”


Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in West Virginia. He and his wife homeschool in the Mountain State. Read more >>

Patricia was complying with the law; she was qualified to homeschool and had notified the local school district of her intent to educate her teen daughter at home.

As a single parent she was entitled by law to child support pursuant to a custody agreement until her children completed high school. However, just days after her daughter’s 18th birthday, the agency responsible for collecting and distributing the support payments from Patricia’s former spouse informed her that child support would no longer be collected simply because her daughter, Katelyn, now 18, was not in school.

She was told that this was happening because “West Virginia does not recognize homeschooling as a secondary education.”

When Patricia contacted the agency to gather more information and to attempt to resolve the matter, she was told by one staff member that “We know homeschool kids don’t work as hard as kids in regular school.”

“Devastated”

Patricia turned to HSLDA for help. She told us she felt “devastated” by the agency’s decision. It would not only create financial hardships for her, but she felt like her entire effort at homeschooling was undermined by the state’s assertion that her choice for educating her daughter was not legitimate.

“I just feel that to be told by the state that your child isn’t working as hard as public schoolkids and [that they] cannot get the financial support they need while they are in school is just wrong,” Patricia said.

Although HSLDA is not able to help in most custody disputes because those issues are usually decided by judges, in this case HSLDA Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly decided it was appropriate to correspond with the West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement.

“I felt like this was a case where the government agency was showing a clear bias against homeschooling,” said Donnelly. “This didn’t have anything to do with the underlying custody issues—this was about the inflammatory, degrading attitude and the incorrect legal view of the state agency. Homeschooling is a legal and valid form of education in West Virginia and is entitled to the very same recognition as any other school.”

Legal Protection

Donnelly wrote to the agency explaining that homeschooling is recognized under state law and therefore a legally valid form of secondary education in West Virginia. By discontinuing Patricia’s child support for the sole reason that her daughter is homeschooled infringed her “constitutional right to educate her child at home.”

Within weeks HSLDA received a letter from the agency letting her know that her case had been reviewed and that they were reinstating her support.

“I can’t tell you what a blessing this is!” Patricia wrote to HSLDA. “Thank you so very much for all of your assistance and timely responses! So blessed to be a part of HSLDA!”

We are pleased to have been able to help Patricia continue homeschooling her daughter, Katelyn, who is finishing her senior year in high school. HSLDA’s mission is to advance the freedom to homeschool. We understand that every family situation is different and sometimes complex. Our staff of homeschooled graduates and expert attorneys (all of whom are or have been homeschooling parents) are here to help you start and continue homeschooling. Your membership with HSLDA allows us to protect your family’s freedom and to assist others like Patricia’s who face hardship, discrimination or other unwarranted government intrusion or burdens due to their homeschooling.

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Protect Your Family

If you or someone you know is not a member of HSLDA, will you consider taking a moment today to join or recommend us? Your support for our work enables us to defend individual families threatened by government officials and protect homeschooling freedom for all. Join now >>