Compulsory school attendance; religious exemption, report. (HJ92)

Introduced By

Del. Tom Rust (R-Herndon) with support from co-patron Del. Vivian Watts (D-Annandale)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate


Study; religious exemption to compulsory school attendance; report. Requests the Department of Education to (i) survey each local school board to determine (a) how the school board makes the determination that a student is eligible to be excused from attending school by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to subdivision B 1 of 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia, (b) whether the initial determination pursuant to clause (a) is reviewed, (c) whether the school board requires the initial grant to be renewed and, if so, how often, and (d) whether the school board monitors the educational progress of students who have been excused from attending school by reason of bona fide religious training or belief or requires the student's parents to report on the student's educational progress, or both, and (ii) make a recommendation to the General Assembly on how, if at all, 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia could be amended to better carry out the requirements of Article VIII, Sections 1 and 3 of the Constitution of Virginia. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


01/07/2014Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/14 14102790D
01/07/2014Referred to Committee on Rules
01/28/2014Assigned Rules sub: Studies
01/30/2014Subcommittee recommends laying on the table
02/12/2014Left in Rules


Travis writes:

While I might have some reservations about specific amendments that might be suggested I do believe that this report can provide valuable insight into how religious exemptions are handled.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

As a kid, I was a member of the home schooling community. Many of my friends were home schooled. I'm a fan of it. That said, anecdotally, there's abuse of the religious exemption. I'd quite like to see this study happened, to see if these are mere anecdotes, or if this really is a problem.

Rick DeFazio writes:

The Virginia code is clear on this matter and has been successfully applied for decades. It is simply working. The religious exemption statue already addresses the five areas of concern proposed.

First, school boards are given discretion in their procedures for determining parental compliance. A parent or guardian simply needs to submit documentation and/or demonstrate their religious belief that compels them to homeschool their children. As a Christian, the Bible is clear on this subject, and commands parents, specifically fathers, to train up their children. My religious beliefs tell me that includes my children's education. Second, existing laws provide for review should a situation warrant one. Third, some school boards require reviews, others do not. Those decisions are best made locally, based on local issues, resources, and other matters. Fourth, school board monitoring is irrelevant because the statute itself exempts all forms of government mandates. Fifth, HJ92 purposes to allow the state to better carry out a duty to provide free public education and compulsory attendance, clearly which violates a parent's individual right and freedom to home educate. For the record, we all know there's no such thing as a free education, and while homeschoolers pay taxes to support educational services, we do not use those services. More specifically, the Virginia constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, and as stated previously, that includes responding to God's command to home educate one's children.

Here's a link to a 2003 report called Homeschooling Grows Up. As you read the results of this study, you see that compared with the general population ages 18-24, home-educated adults attain higher advanced degrees (Fig 1), participate in more local activities (Table 2), are more politically active (Fig 2), voted in national/state elections (Fig 7), self-proclaim to be generally happier (Figures 8-11), and are overall positive contributors to society.

In closing, history is filled with successful examples of home-educated persons who've had great impact on society at large. That would include Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, and every other person noted in biblical history. More recently, that would also include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and others. Most importantly, that group would include literally millions of American adults who were home-educated over the last thirty years, and are now positive members of society.