Virginia's Supreme Court decision favors Franklin County home school family

Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 6:32 PM EDT
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Virginia's Supreme Court ruled in favor this week of a home school family in Franklin County.

As we

the Sosebee family filed a legal complaint against the Franklin County school board.

It was over a policy implemented in July 2017 that required home school families to submit to the school board a copy of their child's birth certificate and proof of residency.

An attorney for the school board told WDBJ7 in July of 2018 that because of a change dictated by the General Assembly, school districts must advise home schooled students and parents about standardized testing and financial assistance options.

To make sure that was done properly, school board Attorney Stephen Maddy told WDBJ7 the Franklin County School Board changed its policy.

"Since we're going to be using tax payer funds and resources to assist them in this endeavor, we just want to make sure that they're Franklin County citizens," Maddy said in 2018.

But the Sosebee family, according to their attorneys, felt the district was overstepping legal bounds with this requirement. They took the matter to a Franklin County Circuit Court judge requesting injunctive relief from the policy. The judge, in December 2018, upheld the board's decision and its authority to do so.

The Sosebee family, through Virginia's Home School Legal Defense Association appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case in late 2019.

The opinion came Thursday in which the Court said the school board does not have the authority to enforce a policy requiring home school families submit a birth certificate and proof of residency. It reversed the judgement of Franklin County's Circuit Court.

"We're thrilled," said Scott Woodruff, Senior Counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association. "We are totally pumped. We are excited for our clients. This is a tremendous win that will have long term positive implications for the entire home school community in Virginia."

The school board attorney, Maddy, told WDBJ7 over the phone Friday they were disappointed by the decision, but they will stop enforcing the policy. The board will discuss a revision at an upcoming meeting.

"It's gonna be a pretty bright yellow flashing caution sign," Woodruff said, "saying you do not have power to add your own idiosyncratic requirements to the home instruction statute."

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