According to Virginia State Law, parents are exempted from sending their children to the public school for religious reasons. Parents would be free to educate their children at home, after having filed an application for exemption. This then gives the parent the right to withhold their child from public school, if they felt that the things taught there violated their consciences. But, christiannews.net reports:
In 2013, Goochland County Public Schools began requiring homeschool parents to reapply for a religious exemption to public education once their children turn 14 years old. The school district also requires homeschool families to write statements describing their religious beliefs.
This meant that the school board added this requirement. They took it upon themselves to seek this change. This meant several things would change. The parents would then be required to submit to the school board a written explanation of these religious beliefs. The school policy also states:
“Before the School Board takes action on a request for a religious exemption, the parent must submit the application, a letter of statement explaining their bona fide religious beliefs and in the case of a student age 14 or older, a statement from the child stating his/her bona fide religious beliefs,”
The child, then could be required to stand before a closed door session of the Goochland County School Board. He would have to give a statement as to his/her “bona fide” religious beliefs. Meaning the board could determine that the child did not hold to such religious beliefs that would qualify him for religious exemption.
“The policy provided the school board the right to call the child before them (and I call it interrogation) to defend those beliefs so they could determine whether indeed the child and the parents still held bona fide religious beliefs to qualify for the exemption,” Douglas Prueitt, a homeschool father, told Fox News. He went on to say: “I don’t believe the school board has the authority—nor should they—to interfere with families schooling their children this way,”
And this brings out a very good point. This is a battle over authority. Who has the right to determine what is best for the children of Goochland County, VA.? Where does the authority lie? Is the authority over these children and what they are taught with the government or the parents?
We know that there is no mention of governmental interference in the education of children in the scriptures. Though there were and at times should be education given in a collected manner. We see that God does not just give elders the duty for the care of confessing adults, but with their covenant children as well. Paul’s father sent him to study in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. There is nowhere that a parent can or should abandon his duty to educate their child. But the Bible never condemns the gathering of children to be taught in addition to what is taught in the home. Yet, this should never be an abdication of the parents authority or responsibility.
If a parent discovers that his child is taught wrong doctrine, he should remove his child from that elder’s teach, and hopefully bring charges against him with the session. If a child is being given the wrong worldview (and I say he is in public school), then they should be removed. Many in Goochland County agree.
It was further reported that: “During the school board’s most recent meeting last week, hundreds of parents voiced opposition to the school district’s treatment of homeschoolers.”
The board said that it would revise its policy, but no one knows exactly what will change.
Both the Family Foundation of Virginia and Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) got involved. Scott Woodruff of HSLDA made this statement: “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,” Woodruff said. “The Goochland policy violates this right.”
May God stand with Goochland County residence in their struggle to defy this usurpation of parental authority.