FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Homeschool Alumni and Advocates Ask Goochland County School Board To Give Students a Voice in Religious Exemption Policy
Goochland County, Va.—On Tuesday, January 13th, the school board in Goochland County, Virginia, repealed a new policy that would have asked students over age 14 to affirm their personal religious beliefs before granting them a religious exemption from school attendance. Under Virginia’s religious exemption clause, parents remove their children from attendance at school but are exempt from following the academic or assessment requirements of the state’s homeschooling statute. Now that the school board has repealed its new policy, students no longer have a say in whether they are taught at home under rules that bypass academic requirements.
“The Goochland County school board has done these students a grave disservice,” stated Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. “By conceding to opposition from parents who are unwilling to allow their children to state their own beliefs, the school board has robbed children of their ability to express their own views on school attendance. Children homeschooled under Virginia’s religious exemption clause have a legal right to be heard.”
State law authorizes school districts to grant a religious exemption from school attendance only in cases where both the pupil and the parents have a religious objection to school attendance. In a 2013 Washington Post article, Josh Powell spoke of being educationally neglected at home and begging local school officials to admit him to public high school, but to no avail. The Goochland County school board’s now-repealed policy, which invited students to voice their own beliefs about school attendance, would have prevented parents like Powell’s from denying their children an education against their explicit desires, and it would have brought the school board into compliance with state law.
“At CRHE, we believe that children should be able to give input into their own education, especially when children are taught at home under a religious exemption that allows parents to bypass the regular homeschooling requirements,” said Coleman. “It is long past time to give these children a voice in their own education.”
For more information, see our longer analysis HERE.
The Coalition for Responsible Education is a national organization dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.