Chesapeake, Virginia, public schools recently sent a letter to homeschool families saying: “Starting in 2023–2024 [notice of intent families with a certified teacher in the home] must also provide the curriculum as well as end of the year testing.”
When I called seeking to clarify this rather confusing statement, staff initially told me that the law had changed. When I inquired concerning what law had changed, the representative acknowledged that no law had actually changed, but they had changed their policy.
Upon asking how their policy had changed, the representative explained that previously, they had not required families homeschooling under the homeschooling via a qualified teacher option to supply a list of subjects, but going forward they would do so.
I asked the representative to send out a letter of correction to families to explain that they will not be requiring them to “provide their curriculum” but merely submit a list of subjects. She declined to do so.
Closer Look at the Law
Families have never been required to “provide the curriculum” itself. But formerly, families homeschooling under Virginia’s home instruction statute, VA Code 22.1-254.1, were required to submit “a description of the curriculum to be followed.” This verbiage caused so much pointless wrangling (for example, how much curriculum detail must be provided), that HSLDA and Home Educators Association of Virginia teamed up to press for a change to the law.
As a result of the subsequent enactment of H.B. 1208, in 2012 the law was amended to say that families must: “provide a description of the curriculum, limited to a list of subjects to be studied.” With this simpler language, controversies over the “description of curriculum” dropped precipitously.
In any event, Chesapeake has no authority to impose idiosyncratic obligations on families. In HSLDA’s Sosebee case, the Virginia Supreme Court said loud and clear that school divisions have no authority to add their own preferred requirements to the state home instruction statute.
Since Chesapeake has opted to not send a follow up letter of correction, we anticipate there will be a slight uptick of controversy.