March 23, 2001
Commonwealth v. Louise T
Grandmother charged with violating compulsory attendance

Filed: February 12, 2001, Richmond County.

Nature of Case: Louise T is the grandmother and guardian of two children in Richmond, Virginia. After a long history of problems with the public schools in the city, Louise told the school officials that she would be teaching the children at home. After several months, a social worker began to ask more and more questions about the children, which eventually led the school officials to file criminal charges against the grandmother.

Ruling: At the trial on March 23, 2001, HSLDA explained that Louise had been teaching the children all year long, and that she had enrolled the children in the New System School, an "umbrella school" with members all over America. New System School operates under private school laws, but in Virginia, New System families can also claim a religious exemption from the compulsory attendance law. Although Virginia's religious exemption statute refers to "parents," not "guardians," the court was satisfied that the home education was occurring with the mother's full knowledge and consent.

Status: The judge ordered the case to be automatically dismissed on April 23, provided Louise submits the necessary religious exemption paperwork to the Richmond Public Schools, with copies to the court.

Last Updated: March 23, 2001.

 Other Resources

Let My People Go!—Richmond Grandmother Goes Free