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March 9, 2006

Publicity Follows Religious Exemption Hearing

Home School Legal Defense Association members Jerry and Denise Brockman had a life-changing encounter with Christ and became convicted that they should educate their children at home rather than allowing them to attend public school.

They mailed a letter to the Lancaster County school board asking officials to acknowledge that their younger children were exempt from compulsory attendance because of religious objections to public school attendance. The school board asked them to attend a meeting to answer questions.

HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff represented the family at the hearing. He hired a court reporter to record the proceedings in case the board rejected the exemption and an appeal was necessary. The parents and their witnesses were prepared to testify, if necessary.

Woodruff deflected a board member's attempt to handle this as a closed meeting, which would have resulted in the public and the court reporter being excluded. He presented an additional letter from the family and a detailed legal memorandum to the board. Woodruff answered several questions from the board, and after a brief discussion, they unanimously approved the exemption.

The local newspaper published an article about the hearing and a separate article about the family, both with photos. The editor invited them to write a letter for publishing describing steps to take to homeschool. Mr. Brockman was asked to speak to a group about his faith. Many people in the community have contacted the family about homeschooling.

Virginia's religious exemption statute is a powerful tool for protecting the constitutionally-guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion. We know of numerous instances where officials have told homeschool families not operating under the religious exemption statute that they must stop homeschooling. Many families who homeschool because of religious convictions choose to operate under the religious exemption statute to protect their family from this kind of threat.

 Other Resources

Homeschooling in Virginia—A Legal Summary