UPDATE: Home school parents win as VA district drops policy requiring ‘statement about religious beliefs’

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. – A Virginia school board has passed a policy allowing the government education system to demand prospective home schoolers to appear before the board to explain their religious beliefs.

A policy of the Goochland County “requires children ages 14 and up who want to be home schooled to provide a statement about their religious beliefs to the school system,” CBS 6 reports.

As a part of that rule, the board “reserves the right” to hold a hearing that includes the parent and/or the student.

Kevin and Katrina Hoeft, Goochland County parents, decided not to send their children to the government school system for religious reasons.

“We believe the public schools have really departed from teaching kids about the role of God in life, Kevin Hoeft says.

“For a 14-year-old to be threatened to have to come before the school board to explain or justify his or her religious beliefs?” the father wonders.

The news station says the board “thought they were doing the right thing” by following other school boards in the state.

School board chairman Michael Payne says that the system’s legal advisor tells them the policy is “legally sound.”

Payne says the board will take the issue up at its Tuesday meeting and “welcomes comments from the public.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association intends to give them just that.

“Even if you do not desire to speak, please attend! A big turnout will show the board that this is an issue of the highest importance,” the group writes in an alert to its members.

HSLDA asserts the board’s policy violates state law.

According to its alert:

Most 14-year-olds haven’t yet developed an adult-level faith. They are still receiving religious training from their parents.

The Virginia religious exemption statute gives families a right to an exemption from school attendance based on the religious training the parents are providing to the child—regardless of what the child believes. The Goochland policy violates this right.

The school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 13 at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the Goochland Administrative Building, in the main board room on the first floor, at 1800 Sandy Hook Road (near the intersection of Sandy Hook Road and Route 6).

HSLDA is encouraging the public to attend and speak about the policy.

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