Sorry, Officials: Homeschooling Doesn’t Require Your Approval
by Mike Donnelly • July 10, 2018
It took a long time to persuade West Virginia legislators to modernize the state’s homeschool law. It’s taking even longer to ensure that public school officials are up to date with the changes.
I recently wrote to the Wirt County School Superintendent’s office asking officials there to correct a letter to local homeschooling families that was full of errors and outdated requirements from a bygone era.
As you can imagine, the misinformation alarmed a number of parents who were left to wonder if school officials are willfully ignoring reforms to homeschool law enacted in 2016.
A Comedy of Errors
The most disturbing error in the letter was that families must “complete an application” to gain approval to homeschool.
This is not the case. Families who file under the notice option are simply informing officials of their intent to homeschool; public school districts cannot approve or disapprove.
The letter also invoked the outmoded requirement of an annual notice from families, requesting paperwork “for the 2018-19 school year.”
However, under the notice option parents file a notice of intent once, on or before the date they begin homeschooling. No other notice is required unless a family moves or stops homeschooling.
Tested on Tests
Rules for annual student assessment have also changed, a fact which was not reflected in the letter.
It stated that parents must “verify completion of grade level achievement either through a portfolio or participation in the statewide assessment.”
Under current law, parents do annually assess their children in the required subjects, but they only report the results to their local school district for grades 3, 5, 8 and 11. Also, parents are not limited to certain means of assessment. They can use a nationally normed standardized achievement test or any other alternative academic assessment of proficiency agreed upon by the local school superintendent.
West Virginia’s homeschool law is meant to provide flexibility so parents can focus less on red tape and more on providing a custom education for their children.
Home School Legal Defense Association intends to keep monitoring Wirt County and any other jurisdiction that fails to provide the respect and accommodation that homeschooling parents merit under the law.