Department of Education Issues 6 Inaccurate Statements
by Scott Woodruff • October 23, 2018
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education recently published a bulletin (see below) containing six significant errors concerning homeschooling laws.
- The department says homeschooling is governed by the policy the Board of Education developed in 2016. This is incorrect. The policy they developed has not been signed by the governor (and hopefully never will be!). Therefore the 2016 policy does not have the force of law. The regulations currently in effect are those that were lawfully adopted in 1998. They have the force of law. Click here to view them.
- The department says homeschool students must receive 1,080 hours of instruction annually. This is incorrect. The current regulations do not require this.
- The department says the Commissioner of Education has the power to “examine” homeschooled children. This is not correct. The current regulations do not authorize this.
- The department says a student portfolio must show “academic growth.” This is not correct. The current regulations require families to maintain a portfolio for each child and submit it up to twice a year upon request. However, there is no mandatory amount of “academic growth” a family must prove.
- The department says, “It’s time to register!” This is not correct. The current regulations do not require families to “register.” Nor do they need to seek or obtain “approval” from the department. They simply file a notice. Filing a notice is far different from registering, and we must insist on that distinction.
- The department says each family must have the Commissioner of Education’s written permission to homeschool a child. This is not correct. While the notice of intent form must be filed annually, parents do not need to wait for anyone’s permission. The current regulations do not require the commissioner’s permission or approval.
The current regulations require that families file the notice of intent “within 10 days of the start of a home instruction program.” Families who take their child out of public school during the school year should file their notice not later than 10 days from the date of withdrawal. Sooner is better. At the beginning of a school year, aim to have your notice on file not later than the first day of public school.
Families must use the notice of intent form, and the acknowledgment form, that are contained within the current regulations. Be aware that the department is pushing families to use a notice of intent form that is not authorized under the current regulations.
The department’s bulletin says there is no such thing as a “home school” in the U.S Virgin Islands. Technically speaking, this is correct. The official name for homeschooling is “home instruction,” according to the current regulations. However, “home schooling” is the universally accepted, common parlance phrase for referring to what we actually do. Feel free to refer to your homeschool as a “home school,” even though that phrase does not exist in the current regulations, and even though your homeschool program is not technically a “school.”
With the six errors now circulating in the public, the cause of freedom needs your help. You can help defend the truth by standing with HSLDA and the territory’s homeschool organization, U.S. Virgin Islands Homeschoolers.
I and my assistant, Landon Farmer, stand ready to help any HSLDA member family in dealings with the Department of Education.