Some of you may have read a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch which discussed the landscape and growth of homeschooling in Virginia. The article included a few inaccuracies with regard to Virginia homeschool law, which we feel need to be clarified for our members and friends.

It’s four, not three: The article states, “…Virginia families can choose to homeschool in one of three ways: home instruction, with a private tutor, or by affiliating with a private school.” Missing from this list is a fourth option: religious exemption! (In the following paragraph addressing public school access, the article does refer to the religious exemption.)

In the same quote, the private school option is mentioned as “affiliating with a private school.” There is a difference between “affiliating” with a private school and attending one. The former does not satisfy compulsory school attendance, but the latter does.

Diploma or Not?

The article also noted that in order to provide home instruction, “Parents must have at least a high school diploma or GED….”

It’s a little more complicated than that. Under the home instruction option, these are the home instructor qualifications:

  • Possess a high school diploma or higher degree,
  • Possess a current Virginia teacher’s license,
  • Provide your child with a curriculum or program of study as part of your home instruction program, or
  • Give evidence that you are able to provide your child an adequate education.

As you can see, a GED alone would not qualify a parent to provide home instruction. Nor does possessing a GED factor into the other three ways to homeschool (religious exemption, certified tutor, or private school option).

For many families, it is also important to point out that the article’s statement that “…policies regarding homeschooled students with special needs remain ambiguous, potentially leaving these students without the necessary support,” is not helpful. Under state regulation 8VAC20-81-150, homeschool students who are receiving home instruction or private tutoring have access to special education services and evaluations much like private school students do.

Keep It Private

Finally, the article states that a “crucial area for improvement” would be the public sharing of homeschool students’ ages and grades for research purposes.

HSLDA disagrees. We have long held that data collection may threaten privacy and invite government intrusion. Homeschooling is a private practice, and we believe it should remain so.

Several years ago, HSLDA and Home Educators Association of Virginia pushed to amend Virginia Code 22.1-154.1 to prohibit school divisions from transmitting any information about homeschooling families to the state Department of Education other than the number of students receiving home instruction.

Homeschool law is sometimes complex and hard to explain. HSLDA continues to work to make sure that the law is clearly presented and understood, both by our members and by the public at large. If you come across explanations of homeschool law that seem odd, please let us know. We have been studying and advocating for homeschool laws for more than 40 years.