Homschooling in Prince William County, VA

Provided by Shay Seaborne, PWC Homeschooler From 1995 to 20011.

Generally Compatible

The Prince William County School board, Superintendent and staff are generally compatible with homeschoolers. This is because the local grassroots coalition has worked to inform- and build a bridge between the school division and homeschoolers in the county. Most homeschoolers in PWC will have no problem whatsoever. Occasionally, some might receive a letter asking for more than the legal requirement–such as a detailed curriculum outline–but these are infrequent, and often resolved when the parent sends a letter back, stating, “I have read the Home Instruction statute, and I don’t see where it says I must provide ‘x’, but if you can show me the exact wording of the law, that shows I must provide it, I will be happy to comply.”

However, on rare occasion, a parent may need to be more proactive.  Information below can be helpful in such cases.

Dealing with Prince William County School Staff

In Prince William County, VA, the Home Instruction notification process, evidence of progress, school re-entry, legal requirements, and reporting responsibilities are supervised by the Supervisor of Student Support Services,  LaNora Minniefield: 703-791-7257.

When you begin homeschooling, and by August 15 prior to subsequent school years, send your Notice of Intent (NOI) to homeschool, description of the program of study, plus other necessary materials (see VaHomeschoolers’ Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia for full information on the state requirements) to:

LaNora Minniefield, Supervisor, Student Support Services, Prince William County Public Schools, P.O. Box 389, Manassas, VA 20108

“Approval Before Removal” Regulation Repealed

A grassroots coalition of PW County homeschoolers achieved elimination of the onerous “approval before removal” regulation that required a 3-day waiting period when withdrawing a child from school to begin homeschooling. VaHomeschoolers‘ 1998 bill improved state law, clarifying that families may begin homeschooling at any time. No prior approval is required; parents simply submit the documents required by law in order to notify the local school division.

Still, the Prince William County Schools (PWCS) staff may attempt to tell parents that their child(ren) should remain in school until the parents have been notified that they have satisfied the requirements of Code of Virginia, section 22.1-254.1. However, any negative decision of the school division under section 22.1-254.1 must come from the superintendent. One then has 30 days to appeal. Other central office personnel are non-players in law. If you are being told you may not withdraw and begin homeschooling under section 22.1-254.1, ask the PWCS representative for a copy of that statement in writing, signed by the superintendent. Then you can appeal to a hearing officer, as provided by the Home Instruction statute, which states:

Code of Virginia, section 22.1-254.1. Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children… E. Any party aggrieved by a decision of the division superintendent may appeal his decision within thirty days to an independent hearing officer. The independent hearing officer shall be chosen from the list maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court for hearing appeals of the placements of children with disabilities. The costs of the hearing shall be apportioned among the parties by the hearing officer in a manner consistent with his findings.

If a PWCS employee tries to block your legal withdrawal of your child, keep notes on specifics: who said what, when, to whom, etc. This information would be important in prosecuting the school official. A principal, superintendent, or school board violating any section of Title 22.1 is guilty of a crime, at minimum a Class 4 misdemeanor. The Commonwealth Attorney must prosecute all cases arising out of Article 1 of Chapter 14 of Title 22.1.

If you encounter a problem with Student Support Services, try to resolve it at that level. But if you don’t receive satisfaction within a reasonable period, contact Clarice Torian, Director of Student Services – 703-791-7262. If you don’t receive satisfaction there, contact the School Board representative for your district. Also, you may wish to report your difficulty to the e-mail address below, as I am in contact with the school board and interested in helping others with their difficulties.

The head of PWCS is the school board, which sets the policies –including for homeschoolers– that the superintendent and other employees must follow. The School Board is elected by the citizens and answer to the citizens. The Superintendent answers to the School Board.

The Code of Virginia mandates that the school board shall “see that the school laws are properly explained, enforced and observed.” Furthermore, the school board governance and operations policy states that “review and revision of policies should reflect prompt consideration and adherence to” state law.

The School Board meets during the school year on the first, second, and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 6:15 p.m. in the School Board Meeting Room, 14800 Joplin Road, Independent Hill. Details and meeting dates.

The PWCS board’s regulations on home instruction are available online in PDF file format:

Home Instruction by Parents

Admission of previously homeschooled children to PWCS schools

Prince William County School Division’s Culture Statement.

According to its Community Relations Policy, PWCS “encourages the use of school buildings and grounds by the community for educational, recreational, civic and cultural activities to the extent possible under law.”

PWCS’s curriculum outline and pacing schedules are available online. (See “Curriculum Areas A-I” and “Curriculum Areas J-T” under “INSTRUCTION,” about 1/2 way down the page on the left.)

Other Links of Interest to PWC Homeschoolers

Shay Seaborne’s Articles on Homeschooling

How to Choose a Homeschool Support Group

Read About PW County Homeschoolers’ Victory!

PWC Homeschoolers Win Part-Time Enrollment in School
Middle- and high school students may take up to 2 academic courses on a space available basis.

The information presented here is for courtesy only and is not intended as legal advice or counsel. For legal advice, contact a licensed attorney.

13 Responses to Homschooling in Prince William County, VA

  1. Heather Seiber says:

    We just moved into the community (Ashland subdivision off of Dumfries Rd.). I have all of my homeschooling curriculum and intend to start teaching this week. We just moved here from TN (my husband is active duty Army). Do I just print off the Intent form, fill it out and mail it in. Obviously, we missed the 15 Aug cut-off, but we just moved into town. I hold two degrees from Baylor University and will be homeschooling our 2nd grader and 8th grader. My 8th grader is coming from a private school and 2nd grader from a public school. Thank you for your advice!

  2. shay says:

    Heather, congratulations on your move and your decision to homeschool. You can use the form that the county provides, but you don’t have to use it. Many experienced homeschoolers think it better to write one’s own Notice of Intent to homeschool, because the counties often ask for more than the legal requirement. No need to worry about the filing date; Virginia’s Home Instruction Statute allows for families to begin homeschooling at any time of the year. Your best resources for further information about homeschooling in the state are The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers website and the statewide email discussion list, VaEclecticHS–of which I am the founder and one of the moderators.
    Thank you for letting me know that you found my page helpful, and I hope you enjoy your family’s homeschooling journey.

  3. Tracy Bishop says:

    Thank you for providing valuable information about homeschooling in Prince William County. I too am in the Ashland community off Dumfries Road. I just decided to homeschool my 8th grader after having her in school 1/2 of the year. The one thing I heard from the new Supervisor of Student Support Services, LaNora Minniefield (it is no longer Cheryl Hiett) is that I need to decide what approved / accredited homeschool curriculum I will be using. Do you know where I can find more information about the approved, accredited Prince William County homeschool curriculum?
    Thank you.

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks for the phone number; my son is coming to live with me in July and wants to go from homeschooling to full-time and our high school seemed a bit clueless who to call.

  5. Nicole Payne says:

    Hi,
    I recently moved to Gainesville, and wanted to have my 10 yr old son homeschooled. I wouldn’t be able to homeschool him myself, so I was wondering if you knew of anyone who homeschools other children besides their own.

  6. shay says:

    What you seek is not considered homeschooling in Virginia. However, you could use the provision. This allows a parent to hire someone to teach their child in a setting outside of the school.

  7. Bobbie says:

    Hi Shay,

    I’m extremely grateful for the time you took to create these articles for us, so I’m reluctant to bring this up, but there is a need for proofreading on the “Homeschooling in Prince William County, VA” page. I am a first time visitor to your resource and it is the first page that came up on my search. Thank you very much.

  8. Lynne Bellaire says:

    We just recently moved to PWC from KY and wondered if I have to have my son tested prior to the school year starting so I can show he made progress during the year. There were no testing requirements in KY so we have only tested on material he has learned in his curriculum.

    Also, is there a place to hand deliver the documents required by LaNora Minniefield?

  9. Shay says:

    Lynne, welcome to Virginia! You do not need to have your son tested prior to the school year. If you choose to use standardized testing to show annual evidence of progress, the scores of the year-end test are accepted. I suggest you join the statewide email discussion list, VaEclecticHS (send a blank email to VaEclecticHS-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) for great information and resources from the state’s inclusive homeschool community. The documents can likely be delivered to the admin building. A call to Ms. Minniefield at 703-791-7257 should give you the correct location.

  10. Nona says:

    This info is very helpful thank you for your time for creating these articles! I have a question, this is my first year homeschooling and it’s been going very well! But I wanted to know ever since I sent the NOI in October for my son’s 2nd grade school year (2013-2014) I never received a letter back telling me that they received my NOI. I know it’s already too late and its already close to the next school year but should I be worried ?

  11. Shay says:

    Hi, Nona, and congratulations on entering the Wonderful World of Homeschooling, and for feeling such success in your first year. Many times in my homeschooling career, people would ask on my statewide discussion list if they should worry when the school division did not respond to their NOI. The consensus was that, if a parent has provided the NOI, they are in compliance with the law and need not worry. There is nothing in the law that says the school division must reply.
    You can find more about the list, VaEclecticHS at https://groups.yahoo.com/group/VAEclecticHS‎.
    VaEclectic: the meeting place for Virginia’s diverse homeschool community since 1999.
    VaEclecticHS is a large, active, fully inclusive list for in-depth discussion of issues affecting homeschooling, and for news about media articles and programs, proposed legislation, research, conferences and other information of interest to Virginia homeschoolers.

    May you long enjoy your homeschooling journey!

    The One Non-Negotiable Rule

    No: spamming, flaming, proselytizing, or partisan politics, and no advertising or selling of anything whether homeschool related or not.

  12. Valarie says:

    Hi there….I can’t seem to find anywhere online about if Prince William County will help with the cost of homeschooling. Does anyone know?

  13. Shay says:

    Hello, Valerie. Homeschooling parents are on their own when it comes to funding their educational choice. However, homeschooling need not be expensive. I homeschooled my children with little expense, through utilizing free and low-cost resources, as well as by creating and participating in cooperative groups. A great resource is Linda Dobson’s book, “The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12.” Within its pages you will find my table showing how to gather the best homeschool resources for under $100.
    One note about Prince William County: thanks to homeschooling parent activists, the school division does allow partial enrollment for non-public school teens.

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