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Religious Exemption Update

Loudoun County School Board Moves to Modify Religious Exemption

Dear Friend,

During a standing-room-only school board meeting on Tuesday, November 27, the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB) listened to compelling testimony from homeschoolers as well as representatives from HEAV and HSLDA. With a surprise 4-4 tie vote, the board decided to move forward with their plans to include a religious exemption change in their legislative package.

The LCSB Legislative and Policy Committee will discuss the RE change at 21000 Education Court in Ashburn on Tuesday, December 4, at 5:30 p.m.
ACTION:
If you are a homeschool resident of Loudoun County and value religious freedom, please take the following action:
  1. Call and/or email school board members who represent you in Loudoun County and respectfully ask the board to remove all references to Virginia’s religious exemption from their legislative action items. Your name and address will be required. Contact information is listed here.
  2. Attend the one-hour committee meeting on December 4 at 5:30 p.m. A large homeschool presence at the meeting will show your commitment to religious freedom. We need even more people than before. RE is the only topic on the agenda during this one-hour committee meeting. Public comments will not be allowed.
  3. Contact other homeschoolers to join you in attendance at the meeting. Bring your homeschool children. Fill ALL the seats! This is an educational opportunity to see government in action--and this could impact them in the near future.
If you are NOT a resident of Loudoun County and value religious freedom, please take the following action:
  1. Pray for a resolution to this threat to our religious freedom. If this goes from Loudoun County to the General Assembly in January, all Virginia religiously exempt families in all cities and counties will face the same challenge to their religious freedom.
  2. ALL homeschoolers can attend the December 4 committee meeting to listen to the discussion.
  3. Because emails and phone calls require identification as a Loudoun County resident, non-residents should not contact school board members.
Whether you are religiously exempt or file a notice of intent, we encourage you to stand with your fellow homeschoolers for religious freedom.

HEAV will stand to protect and defend the religious freedom of parents to educate their children under the religious exemption statute. Let's stand together!

See more background information below.
Regards,

Yvonne Bunn
Director of Government Affairs
BACKGROUND
Loudoun County homeschool parents and representatives of HEAV and HSLDA testified articulately and reasonably in opposition to religious exemption changes in the Loudoun County School Board’s legislative action items. Public comment was limited to one minute per speaker. There was no discussion.

After public comments concluded and other topics were discussed, near the end of the four-hour meeting, the board revisited the legislative action item in question: a language change to Virginia’s RE statute §22.1-254(B)(1).  

With a 4-4 tie vote, the board agreed to maintain its position and include religious exemption as one of the board’s legislative action items. This means LCSB will present the RE change to Loudoun County’s representatives in the General Assembly at a breakfast scheduled for December 7.

However, in a surprising turn of events based on public input from the homeschool community, the board moved to send the proposal back to the Legislative and Policy Committee to reexamine the issue during a one-hour meeting December 4 at 5:30 p.m.

According to board vice-chairwoman Brenda Sheridan, all board members are invited to join the discussion and members of the public are invited to view the discussion. However, public comment has been denied. In order to accommodate the number of interested homeschool parents, the meeting has been moved to the larger LCPS school board auditorium in the administration building at 21000 Education Court in Ashburn.

 

POSITION
In Virginia, religious freedom is a founding principle, and Virginia is the only state with a true religious exemption for those who are conscientiously opposed to attendance at school. The Loudoun County School Board is putting into motion a process that will erode our religious freedoms. Loudoun County School Board’s 2019 Legislative Action Items states:
Supports Compulsory Education for All Virginia School-Age Children
Supports legislative changes to the Virginia Code §22.1-254(B)(1) related to religious exemption from compulsory public school attendance to require that a child be guaranteed the fundamental right to an education by his or her parent or legal guardian, in compliance with Article VII of the Constitution of Virginia, through an alternative public, private, parochial and/or approved home instruction setting.
HEAV believes the religious exemption statute is solely related to attendance at school, not opting out of educating our children. It is about the exercise of our religious freedom to direct the education of our children in a way that is consistent with our sincere religious beliefs. It is about a personal religious conviction against sending our children to school.

If the RE statute is modified as proposed by the Loudoun County School Board:

  • Who will guarantee the religiously exempt child is getting an education? The parent or the government?
  • Whose standard of education will be implemented? The parents’ or the government’s?
  • To whom will the child be accountable? The parent or the government?
  • Whose methods will be used to show education is taking place? The parents’ or the government’s?

Any changes in the religious exemption statute will restrict the freedom of parents who have chosen to exercise their genuine religious beliefs in the education their children.

Support
With your prayer and financial support, we can work together to protect our homeschool freedoms. Please support our efforts by joining HEAV now.
 
Join HEAV Today.
Copyright © 2018 Home Educators Association of Virginia, All rights reserved.


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