Provided by Shay Seaborne, PWC Homeschooler From 1995 to 20011.
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“Approval Before Removal” Regulation Repealed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:
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
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.