The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXV
No. 6
Cover
November/December
2009

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VIRGINIA

VGAP Scholarship Eligibility Revised for Homeschoolers

On July 14, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) voted, as anticipated, to establish an SAT score of 900 (math plus verbal), or ACT score of 19, as equivalent to a grade point average of 2.5 to qualify homeschool graduates for the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program (VGAP).

Homeschool graduates were excluded from the VGAP scholarship program until Senator Ken Cuccinelli (37th district) launched a legislative initiative to right this wrong. Thanks to his leadership, homeschool students who work hard and are able to prove their accomplishments via one of those tests will find a level playing field when they apply for the scholarship. This scholarship is oriented toward families with financial need.

Students are eligible to apply for the scholarship whether they were homeschooled under the notice of intent statute or the religious exemption statute.

Home School Legal Defense Association will continue to work with SCHEV to establish a more appropriate path to the scholarship for students headed toward community college. Requiring those students to take the SAT or ACT is not appropriate, since those tests are not part of their normal educational path for community college students. For the time being, however, even those students pursuing community college will need to take the SAT or ACT to qualify for the VGAP.

For more details, watch HSLDA’s June 1 briefing with SCHEV staffer Lee Andes.

— by Scott A. Woodruff

Truancy Threatened for Refusal to Disclose Grade Level

After homeschooling under the notice of intent provision for several years, Rusty Johnson (name changed to protect his privacy) notified his Lynchburg-area school system that he would be educating children under the approved tutor provision of the law instead.

The requirements of this provision are simple: notify the superintendent that you have a current Virginia teacher certificate and that you intend to tutor children. It is not necessary to identify the children you plan on tutoring or provide annual notice or year-end assessments. Then send renewals of your certificate if you intend to continue tutoring. Code of Virginia § 22.1-254.1 (A).

Apparently unfamiliar with this law, the assistant superintendent asked Johnson for the grade level of his son—which is not necessary under the approved tutor provision.

Johnson, a member of Home School Legal Defense Association, asked for help. HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff wrote to the assistant superintendent, clearly explaining the law.

The assistant superintendent responded that the school board needed the age and grade level of each child to enforce the compulsory attendance law. He said that he would have no choice but to report the child as truant if Johnson did not supply the information.

Woodruff promptly replied, pointing out that it is normal for one student to be operating on several grade levels simultaneously. Back when nationally standardized tests were used in Virginia schools, he added, teachers could easily see that a particular student might be operating on two or three grade levels—which might or might not correspond to his nominal school grade level. Explaining the law yet again, Woodruff noted the obvious fact that it is not necessary to peg a tutored or homeschooled child into a single grade.

Four days later, the assistant superintendent acknowledged that Johnson did not need to provide the grade level of his son.

— by Scott A. Woodruff