Monday, October 18, 2010

another state, another round of deciphering homeschool law...

I might have done something really dumb or perhaps not last week when I attempted to track down an opportunity for Will to participate in a local spelling bee. He does have a knack for learning difficult words (photogenic, enthusiasm), though he can also spell rifle incorrectly (rifel) two minutes later. I figured it would be a learning experience and, knowing that the local public school allows homeschoolers to participate in some activities and classes, called up the middle school and was directed to the "homeschool liaison." Well, when the woman called me back she was direct in saying that he would not be allowed to be in the school's spelling bee and that I was required to fill out a notice of intent to homeschool to be legally homeschooling in the state.

Now, we started our homeschooling adventure in Virginia 8 years ago and I was informed way back then (same laws were in effect) that because we were fully enrolled with Seton Home Study School that we did not have to interact with the state in any way because the curriculum was on an approved list in Richmond. The impression I was given by the Chesapeake superintendent's office was that using Seton was the same as sending them to Portsmouth Catholic, it was a private school and neither set of parents have to notify/get permission from the state.

However, now I am concerned that this is not the case, so with a phone message waiting at HSLDA, I am attempting to understand the law so I comply, but do not give more information or power to a school district that should spend its resources teaching the children under its care, rather than harassing families who are educating their own offspring. 

edited to add: after talking with a HVEA representative, I was all ready to submit my paperwork, but then the HSLDA attorney called me back and informed me that legally the children are NOT homeschooled, but are private school students. I promptly called the homeschool liaison (public school bureaucrat) and informed her of the same. We are not obligated to submit intent forms, standardized testing results or have any interaction with the city or state. 

But since the past 7 years have looked, sounded like, and felt like homeschooling, I will in non-legal conversations consider myself just as much of a homeschooler as ever before!    


Renee said...

Since your son is enrolled with Seton and it's a VA school... then your son might not be considered a homeschooler but a private school student.
When we lived in VA, I did my own curriculum so I did have to final my letter of intent.
Do you belong to HSLDA? They could be helpful in answering the question

Home School Dad said...

If it is like Renee says and youre son is considered a private school student, you should recontact the school and see if your son can enter the bee as a private school student in the district. I remember that when I was a kid at Catholic school we participated in activities (such as debate and school plays) with other local public schools. That was way back in the 70's in another state but it still may work for you.

Deb said...

Stupid, busy-body local authorities. The little local power mongers scare me. Good Luck, and let us know what happens.

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about VA homeschooling law but I do know that Scripps allows homeschool groups to sponsor local bee's. Our homeschool group sponsor's the Nat'l Geo Bee and a local round of the Scripp's Spelling Bee.
You might a) be able to find a homeschool group doing the bee or b) sponsor one yourself

Tammy said...

So glad this is resolved.
Every year we have to fill out intent to homeschool forms at our local school.
We recently needed them to do some evaluation for our son with DS. They wouldn't even return our calls. We had to go to a school in a neighboring town, and pay out of pocket to get it done.
I'm just thankful we don't have to send our children to be educated in such environments.

jugglingpaynes said...

I'm glad to hear you were able to work out the issue. Bureaucracy can be nerve-wracking.

Peace and Laughter!