The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled: when parents comply with the commonwealth’s home instruction statute, they have a legal right to teach their children at home.
As many of you know, just over two years ago, Home School Legal Defense Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kirk and Kristen Sosebee, challenging a Franklin County School Board policy that required homeschoolers to provide their children’s birth certificates and proof of residency, or face prosecution.
On June 11, the Supreme Court of Virginia ordered the Franklin County Circuit Court to declare the board’s policy unlawful and to issue an injunction that will prevent the board from enforcing it against families in the future. The decision was unanimous.
You can read the decision for yourself, but the heart of the decision rests in the rule of law and the General Assembly’s exclusive control over its own homeschool statute.
Stick with the Law
The court held that the first sentence of the home instruction statute “makes it clear that this statute sets forth the requirements parents must meet in order to homeschool their children.” If a parent satisfies the notice requirements set out in the statute, “she is statutorily authorized to homeschool her child. There is no statutory requirement that a parent provide a child’s birth certificate or proof of residency.”
The court also dismissed the board’s argument that it could regulate these families under a general statute that allows boards to adopt policies and regulations “for its own government, for the management of its official business and for the supervision of schools.”
The court agreed with us that this statute only allows boards to adopt policies “for the supervision of public schools, not home instruction,” and that in any event, this policy was inconsistent with state law because it required proofs that were not required by the home instruction statute.
Strong and Courageous
We all play a part in the battle for homeschool freedom, but every once in a while, God raises up a family to bear the standard for all of us at a key moment in history. We are incredibly grateful to Kirk and Kristen for their dedication to teach their children at home and their courage to take a stand even in the face of potential prosecution.
Lastly, I want to extend gratitude to our local counsel, Mel Williams, and all of the HSLDA team members and friends who have supported us over the past two years. Whether you donated time to help us prepare, supported our efforts through your gifts, or encouraged us with heartfelt notes and thoughtful prayers, we are incredibly grateful to have you alongside us.