Today I had to lose a battle even though I was fully capable of winning it. I know though that I’m prepared to win the war if need be.
Homeschool laws are different in each state. I guess I should be happy about this because it puts power in the state’s hands, not the federal government’s. The difficult part is that I don’t really get to choose the state in which we live. My husband’s job does that. The homeschooling laws in our state basically state that I have to notify the local school superintendent of my intent to homeschool. I also have to fall under one of several categories and then have to provide a description of the curriculum I plan on using.
Nowhere in the statute does it state that I have to provide my child’s date of birth, last school attended, neighborhood school, or if my child is eligible for special education resources. After complying with the law by submitting a Notice Of Intent letter, a copy of my college diploma, and a description of our planned curriculum (which was as simple as telling them what subjects I am going to teach), I then received an email from someone in the school system asking me to fill out the school system’s own NOI. It asked for all of that information that I am not legally required to provide.
This presented a big problem for me. I don’t want to rock the boat and be contentious because then they know my name and could potentially make my homeschooling experience a living Hell. They couldn’t do anything legally, but they sure could pester me. HOWEVER, I know that I am in the right and I don’t want to give an inch, especially when it comes to the subject of homeschooling. I am very defensive about homeschooling because of the negative press it receives and the weird ideas people have about it and homeschoolers in general.
So, I was torn about whether to comply with the extra required information, just ignore it and wait and see if they would come back for more, or immediately go on the defensive letting them know I was in compliance, talk to my legal council. After calling the Home School Legal Defense Association (which you should join if you’re a homeschooler, btw) I decided to just ignore the email. If they were really serious about getting information from me then they would contact me again.
This brings me to today. I received another email, this time from the person that got the short straw at school and is now stuck dealing with the weird homeschool families. Now, I don’t know if that’s exactly the way it went down, but I’m guessing she doesn’t fully enjoy being the homeschool liaison or else she would have chosen her words a little bit differently. She wrote,
We have received your application for your daughter and need her birth date to process the application. Please email me this information at your earliest convenience. Thank you,
and signed her name. Hold on, what!? There is no application for homeschooling and nothing has to be processed. I checked the law. I am fully capable of homeschooling my child. I am telling you that is what is going to happen. I’m not waiting for you to process any application, implying that something might be rejected. This is what makes me think she doesn’t care much about fully understanding the law. Or she doesn’t care enough about being the liaison to word things correctly. I guess I should cut her some slack.
So, around and around again I went today. Do I just email her the birth date? Do I ignore again? Do I slap a copy of the statute in an email and let her know I’m in full compliance already? The last option was what I was leaning towards all day. And I got the idea to ask her why they even needed my daughter’s birth date? Just out of curiosity, of course.* I had to decide if this was a battle I was going to pick to fight. If I emailed the birth date the whole “situation” might just blow over and maybe they wouldn’t remember my name and my address throughout the school year. If I ignored again there could be the possibility that they would see that as defiance and remember my name and address throughout the school year. And if I got all sassy on them just for a birth date they very well could remember my name and address.
I chose to lose this battle in hopes of getting them off my back. I had to swallow my pride. I had to give up the idea of putting them in their place about the homeschooling law, even if they are just gathering extra information to get more money for their school district, or some other seemingly innocent idea. But I am ready. If for some reason they feel the need to ask for anything else I will get aggressive and let them know I have legal council who has advised me not to provide any more information. Back off.
Still, I may give Miss Short Straw a call to let her know the school website’s page on homeschooling has information and requirements on there coming from an old statute, and that what they have on there currently doesn’t fall within the Virginia state law. In a totally nice and non-confrontational way of course. Because I still have that desire to win…
*The reason they want the birth date could be as simple as wanting to know if the child truly falls within the age limits of compulsory attendance. It could also be a way to determine if that child is on the track they have deemed appropriate for education. This is where battles are usually fought with school systems and homeschoolers. The school system thinks your child should be learning a, b and c in the second grade, but you, as the child’s caregiver who intimately knows the brain of this child and the one who ultimately has control over your child thinks he should be learning c, a little bit of b and x. Who is right? (And don’t even get started with me here. If you think the government should be in control of a child’s education please just lose this battle, like I had to above, and do not respond. Thankyouverymuch)