Home Instruction & Religious Exemption

Religious Exemption

For purposes of definition regarding Religious Exemption - The statute regarding religious training for children is §22.1-254 (B)(1) and it reads:

“A school board shall excuse from attendance at school: any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school. For purposes of this subdivision, “bona fide religious training or belief” does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.”

1.     Nelson County Schools requires a letter requesting the religious exemption with some type of supporting documents.

  • Send the letter along with the supporting documentation to our local school board to the attention of the Division Superintendent.  The letter should come from the parent(s)/guardian(s) and it should describe the family’s religious beliefs, particularly those ideas for the family and the spiritual basis for opposing attendance at a public school,

  • The supporting documentation can be both items listed below or you may select just one item: scriptural or other spiritual quotations, if available, that support or affirm the family’s beliefs and/or letters from friends, relatives, or members of the family’s faith, that confirm the family’s beliefs are sincere.

2.     The School Board Office will then review the letter and the supporting documents. If there is adequate documentation, the Division Superintendent will then take the request to the next School Board Meeting as an Item for Action.  The Board Members then decide to approve or decline the request.  The decision will be based on the information that has been provided by the requesting family.

  • If a School Board approves the request, the School Board will issue a letter acknowledging that the family has a religious exemption to school attendance under §22.1-254 B 1 of the Code of Virginia. Once the request has been approved, a religious exemption request lasts as long as your child is of compulsory school attendance age.  Basically, once you have filed for this, you do not need to file for it again.  However, keep in mind that the School Board is excusing that one child from attendance from school attendance. The School Board will expect another request for any subsequent children that come of school age.

  • If a school board rejects the request for a religious exemption, the School Board will request additional information to take to the next School Board meeting and they will review the request a second time. Keep in mind that if the School Board rejects the request, a family is not exempt from the Compulsory Attendance Code, and the family must comply with one of the lawful options under that law (public school, private school, or file under the home instruction statute) or risk civil and criminal process for truancy.

Return any correspondence to: Nelson County Public Schools, Attn: Religious Exemption Requests, P.O. Box 276, Lovingston, VA   22949.

Our office is located at 84 Courthouse Square on the 4th floor of the Courthouse in Lovingston. You may reach us at 434-260-7646.

Home Instruction in Virginia

Parents must ensure that their child attends school in compliance with the state compulsory attendance law, when the child has reached their fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and has not passed their 18th birthday. The compulsory attendance law requires that unless the child falls within one of the specified exceptions, that they attend a public or private school or receive an education through one of the other Code of Virginia alternatives to school attendance. Home instruction (also referred to as “home schooling”) is one alternative to school attendance. Parents may home school “when the requirements...of the Code have been satisfied.”

The Code requires parents who home instruct to provide their local school division with:

  • Evidence of having met one of the criteria for providing home instruction (see "Criteria for Providing Home Instruction” below)

  • A notice of intent to home instruct

  • A list of the subjects to be studied for the coming year, and

  • Evidence of academic progress at the end of the school year, by August 1

Criteria for Providing Home Instruction

The Code of Virginia requires the parent providing home instruction to submit evidence to their local school division that they meet one of the following options:

  • Option I: The parent holds a high school diploma or a higher credential

  • Option II: The parent meets the qualifications of a teacher as prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education

  • Option III: The parent provides the child with a program of study or curriculum which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner

  • Option IV: The parent provides evidence that the parent can provide an adequate education for the child

Notice of Intent

Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify their local school division by August 15 of their intention to instruct the child. Parents who move into the school district or begin home instruction after the school year has begun must notify the school division as soon as practicable and comply with the provisions of the law within 30 days of such notice. Please click here for a copy of a Notice of Intent Form.

Evidence of Progress

The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall submit to their local school division, by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction, evidence of the child’s academic progress with either:

  • Evidence that the child has attained a composite score in or above the fourth stanine on any nationally normed standardized achievement test; or an equivalent score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT test; or

  • An evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress, including but not limited to:

    • An evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master's degree or higher in an academic discipline, having knowledge of the child's academic progress, stating that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress; or

    • A report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance learning program, or home-education correspondence school

For additional information regarding home instruction, please click here.