Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Newport News Drops Birth Date Demand

Many families recently contacted HSLDA about a letter they received from Newport News Public Schools telling them that they must give the birth dates of their children before they will “consider” a family’s “request” to provide home instruction.

Since birth dates are required to be on file for public school students, it is easy for a school official to assume mistakenly that they are required for homeschool students, as well. Over the years one Virginia school district or another has tried periodically to mandate the filing of birth dates.

The potential for confusion is compounded by the fact that the Virginia Department of Education’s “model” notice of intent calls for birth dates. State law, however, does not require that a homeschooled child’s birth date be included on their notice of intent.

Furthermore, Virginia families do not need to “request” home instruction. They simply file a notice. The school system’s suggestion that they will not “consider” a family’s “request” to homeschool without the birth date is simply bogus.

Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott Woodruff called Newport News Public Schools and spoke with the staff member who had sent the letter demanding birth dates. He explained that state law does not require that families disclose this information. She acknowledged that was correct, and confirmed that the school system would halt its practice of rejecting notices of intent without birth dates.

We expect that Newport News will continue to request birth dates on their own form. We recommend that families who are not under the religious exemption use HSLDA’s notice of intent form (available on the members-only section of our website) to make sure that you are only submitting information that is required under law, or submit a letter that contains all the information in HSLDA’s form.