Virginia Laws and Regulations

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An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of Virginia, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.

Virginia General Assembly

*UPDATED 2006

Parents who are high school graduates are now treated the same as college graduates for filing purposes; the testing requirements now say “any nationally normed standardized achievement test” instead of the former language (“one approved by the Board of Education”). Italics indicates new language. FAQs about 2006 Changes to Home Instruction Statute, from The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers.

Parent Qualifications: meet one of the following:

  • Have a college degree or teacher certificate and submit description of curriculum;
  • Use a state approved correspondence course;
  • Submit a program of study that meets or exceeds state standards;
  • File a religious exemption;
  • Be a currently certified teacher.

Testing: Choose The following:

  • Submit results of standardized achievement test by August 1. Parent may choose test, administrator, location and date. Child needs to score at or above 4th stanine. (Top 23 percentile).
  • Submit portfolio for review or arrange for independent evaluation.

Ages of children required to attend.

Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children.

Nonresident children.

Children exempted from article.

Excusing children who cannot benefit from education or whose parents conscientiously object; excusing children for reasons of health or apprehension for personal safety.

Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school.

Teachers to keep daily attendance records.

Report of children enrolled and not enrolled.

Division superintendent to make list of children not enrolled; duties of attendance officer.

Complaint to court when parent fails to comply with law.

Violation constitutes misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor to make false statements as to age.

Inducing children to absent themselves.

Law-enforcement officers and truant children.

Eligibility of certain children to earn a high school equivalency certificate.


22.1-254 – Ages of children required to attend.

Every parent, guardian, or other person in the Commonwealth having control or charge of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before October 31 of the 1980-1981 school year and September 30 of any year thereafter and who has not passed the seventeenth birthday shall, during the period of each year the public schools are in session and for the same number of days and hours per day as the public schools, send such child to a public school or to a private, denominational or parochial school or have such child taught by a tutor or teacher or qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent or provide for home instruction of such child as described in 22.1-254.1.

Instruction in the home of a child or children by the parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of such child or children shall not be classified or defined as a private, denominational or parochial school. (Code 1950, 22-275.1; 1952, c. 279; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968, c. 178; 1974, c. 199; 1976, cc. 681, 713; 1978, c. 518; 1980, c. 559;1984, c. 436.)

22.1-254.1 Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children.

A. When the requirements of this section have been satisfied, instruction of children by their parents in their home is an acceptable alternative form of education under the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any parent of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the seventeenth birthday may elect to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance if he (i) holds a baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution of higher education; or (ii) is a teacher of qualifications in a correspondence course approved by the Board of Education; or (iv) provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts and mathematics and provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.

B. Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify the division superintendent in August of his intention to so instruct the child and provide a description of the curriculum criteria for providing home instruction as required by paragraph A of this section. The division superintendent shall notify the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the persons approved to provide home instruction.

C. The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall provide the division superintendent by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction with either (i) evidence that the child has attained a composite score above the fortieth percentile on a. battery of achievement tests which have been approved by the Board of Education for use in the public schools or (ii) an evaluation or assessment which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, indicates that the child is a achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

In the event that evidence of progress as required in this paragraph is not provided by the parent, home instruction shall cease and the parent shall make other arrangements for the education of the child which comply with 22.1-254 of the Code of Virginia.

D. For purposes of this section, “parent” means the biological parent or adoptive parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of a child.

Nothing in this section shall prohibit a pupil and his parents from obtaining an excuse from school attendance by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to 22.1-257 of this Code.

E. Any party aggrieved by a decision of the division superintendent may appeal his decision within thirty days to an independent hearing officer. The independent hearing officer shall be chosen from the list maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court for hearing appeals of the placements of handicapped children. The costs of the hearing shall be borne by the party appealing. (1984, c. 436.)

22.1-255. Nonresident children.

Any person who has residing with him for a period of sixty days or more any child within the ages prescribed in 22.1-254 whose parents or guardians reside in another state or the District of Columbia shall be subject to the provisions of 22.1-254 and shall pay or cause to be paid any tuition charges for such child that may be required pursuant to 22.1-5 or shall return such child to the home of his parents or legal guardians. (Code 1950, 22-220; 1958, c. 628; 1968, c. 178; 1976, cc. 681, 713; 1978, c. 140; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-256. Children exempted from article.

A. The provisions of this article shall not apply to:

1. Children suffering from contagious or infectious diseases while suffering from such diseases;

1a. Children whose immunizations against communicable diseases have not been completed as provided in 22.1-271.2;

2. Children under ten years of age who live more than two miles from a public school unless public transportation is provided within one mile of the place where such children live;

3. Children between ten and seventeen years of age who live more than 2 1/2 miles from a public school unless public transportation is provided within 1 1/2 miles of the place where such children live;

4. Children excused under 22.1-257 of this article;

5. Any child who will not have reached his sixth birthday on or before September 30 of each school year whose parent or guardian notifies the appropriate school board that he does not wish the child to attend school until the following year;

6. Any child withdrawn from kindergarten as provided in 22.1-3 until the school year following the withdrawal.

B. The distances specified in paragraphs A 2 and A 3 of this section shall be measured or determined from the entrance to the school grounds or the school bus stop nearest the entrance to the residence of such children by the nearest practical routes which are usable for walking or riding. Disease shall be established by the certificate of a reputable practicing physician in accordance with regulations adopted by he Board of Education. (Code 1950, 22-275.3; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968c. 178; 1975, c. 558; 1976, cc. 681, 713; 1978, c. 518; 1980, c. 559; 1981, c. 540; 1985, c. 407.)

* The 1985 amendment substituted “September 30″ for “December thirty-one” in subdivision A 5.

22.1-257. Excusing children who cannot benefit from education or whose parents conscientiously object; excusing children for reasons of health or apprehension for personal safety.

A. A school board:

1. May, on recommendation of the principal and the division superintendent, with the written consent of the parent or guardian, excuse from attendance at school any pupil who the school board determines, in accordance with regulations of the Board of Education, cannot benefit from education at such school;

2. 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;

3. Shall, on the recommendation of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city in which the pupil resides, excuse from attendance at school for such period of time as the court deems appropriate any pupil who, together with his parents, is opposed to attendance at a school by reason of concern for such pupil’s health, as verified by competent medical evidence, or by reason of such pupil’s reasonable apprehension for personal safety when such concern or apprehension in that pupil’s specific case is determined by the court to be justified;

4. May, on recommendation of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city in which the pupil resides, excuse from attendance at school any pupil who, in the judgment of such court, cannot benefit from education at school.

B. The court in reaching its determination as to whether the concern or apprehension referred to in paragraph A 3 of this section is justified shall take into consideration the recommendation of the principal and division superintendent.

C. As used in paragraph A 2 of this section, the term “bona fide religious training or belief” does not include essentially political, sociological or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code. (Code 1950, 22-275.4, 22-275.4:1; 1954, c. 638; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968, c. 178; 1970, cc. 162, 451; 1976, c. 692; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-258. Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school.

Every school board shall have power to appoint one or more attendance officers who shall be charged with he enforcement of the provisions of this article. Where no attendance officer is appointed by the school board, the division superintendent shall act as attendance officer.

Whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil’s parent or guardian is aware of the pupil’s absence, a reasonable effort to notify by telephone the parent or guardian shall be made by the attendance officer, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose. School divisions are encouraged to use non-instructional personnel for this notice.

Attendance officers, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection with the notice to parents of a pupil’s absence or failure to give such notice as required by this section. (Code 1950, 22-275.16; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559; 1985, c. 482.)

22.1-259. Teachers to keep daily attendance records.

Every teacher in every school in the Commonwealth shall keep an accurate daily record of attendance of all children in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Board of Education. Such record shall, at all times, be open to any officer authorized to enforce the provisions of this article who may inspect of copy the same and shall be admissible in evidence in any prosecution for a violation of this article as prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. (Code 1950, 22-209, 22-275.15; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1964, c. 119; 1968, c. 178; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-260 Report of children enrolled and not enrolled.

Within ten days after the opening of the school, each public school principal shall report to the division superintendent:

1. The name of each pupil enrolled in the school, the age and grade of the pupil and the name and address of the pupil’s parent or guardian; and

2. To the best of the principal’s information, the name of each child subject to the provisions of this article who is not enrolled in school with the name and address of the child’s parent or guardian. (Code 1950, 22-275.8, 22-275.9; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-261. Division superintendent to make list of children not enrolled; duties of attendance officer.

The division superintendent shall check the reports submitted pursuant to 22.1-260 with the last school census and with reports from the State Registrar of Vital Records and Health Statistics. From these reports and from any other reliable source the division superintendent shall, within five days after receiving all reports submitted pursuant to 22.1-260, make a list of the names of children who are not enrolled in any school and who are not exempt from school attendance. It shall be the duty of the attendance officer to investigate all cases of non-enrollment and, when no valid reason is found therefore, to notify the parents, guardian or other person having control of the child to require the attendance of such child at the school within three days from the date of such notice. (Code 1950, 22-275.10; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-262. Complaint to court when parent fails to comply with law.

A list of persons so notified shall be sent by the attendance officer to the appropriate school principal. If the parent, guardian or other person having control of the child fails to comply with the law within the time specified in the notice, it shall be the duty of the attendance officer to make complain in the name of the Commonwealth before the juvenile and domestic relations district court. In addition thereto, such child may be proceeded against as a child in need of services as provided in Chapter 11 (16.1-226 et seq.) of Title 16.1 of this Code. (Code 1950, 22-275.11; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 98; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-263. Violation constitutes misdemeanor.

Any person violating the provisions of 22.1-254 or 22.1-255 shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. (Code 1950, 22-275.5; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1796, c. 283; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-264. Misdemeanor to make false statements as to age.

Any person who makes a false statement concerning the age of a child between the ages set forth in 22.1-254 for the purpose of evading the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. (Code 1950, 22-275.18; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968, c. 178; 1976, cc. 283, 681, 713; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-265. Inducing children to absent themselves.

Any person who induces or attempts to induce any child to be absent unlawfully from school or who knowingly employs or harbors, while school is in session, any child absent unlawfully shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. (Code 1950, 22-275.19; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 283; 1980, c. 559.)

22.1-266. Law-enforcement officers and truant children.

Notwithstanding the provisions of 16.1-246 of this Code, any law-enforcement office as defined in 9-169 of this Code or any attendance officer may pick up any child who is reported to be truant from school by a school principal or division superintendent or who the law-enforcement officer or attendance officer reasonably determines, by reason of the child’s age and circumstances, is truant from school and may deliver such child to the appropriate school and personnel thereof without charging the parent or guardian of such child with a violation of any provision of law. (Code 1950, 22-275.11:1, 1976, c. 692; 1978, c. 215; 1980, c. 559.)


Code of Virginia, 1950, 1991 Cumulative Supplement, Annotated

Article 1

Compulsory School Attendance

22.1-254. Ages of children required to attend.

A. Every parent, guardian, or other person in the Commonwealth having control or charge of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the eighteenth birthday shall, during the period of each year the public schools are in session and for the same number of days and hours per day as the public schools, send such child to a public school or to a private, denominational or parochial school or have such child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education and approved by the division superintendent or provide for home instruction of such child as described in 22.1-254.1.

As prescribed in the regulations of the Board of Education, the requirements of this section may also be satisfied by sending a child to an alternative program of study or work/study offered by a public, private, denominational or parochial school or by a public or private degree granting institution of higher education.

B. Instruction in the home of a child or children by the parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of such child or children shall not be classified or defined as private, denominational or parochial school.

C. The requirements of this section shall not apply to any child who has obtained a high school diploma, its equivalent, or a certificate of completion, or has otherwise complied with compulsory school attendance requirements as set forth in this article.

D. The requirements of this section shall apply to any child in the custody of the Department of Youth and Family Services, or any child who may have been adjudicated as an adult, and who has not passed his eighteenth birthday. (Code 1950, 22-275.1; 1952, c. 279; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968, c. 178; 1974; c. 199; 1976, cc. 681, 713; 1978, c. 518; 1980, c. 559; 1984, c. 436; 1989, c. 515; 1990, c. 797; 1991, c. 295.)

22.1-254.1 Declaration of policy; requirements for home instruction of children. A. When the requirement of this section have been satisfied, instruction of children by their parents in their home is an acceptable alternative form of education under the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Any parent of any child who will have reached the fifth birthday on or before September 30 of any school year and who has not passed the eighteenth birthday may elect to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance if he

(i) holds a baccalaureate degree in any subject from an accredited institution of higher education; or

(ii) is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education; or

(iii) has enrolled the child or children in a correspondence course approved by the Board of Education; or

(iv) provides a program of study or curriculum which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, includes the standards of learning objectives adopted by the Board of Education for language arts and mathematics and provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.

B. Any parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify the division superintendent in August of his intention to so instruct the child and provide a description of the curriculum to be followed for the coming year and evidence of having met The criteria for providing home instruction as required by subsection A of this section. Any parent who moves in to a school division after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intention to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall comply with the requirements of this section within thirty days of such notice. the division superintendent shall notify the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the number of students in the school division receiving home instruction.

C. The parent who elects to provide home instruction shall provide the division superintendent by August 1 following the school year in which the child has received home instruction with either

(i) evidence that the child has attained a composite score above the fortieth percentile on a battery of achievement tests which have been approved by the Board of Education for use in the public schools or

(ii) an evaluation or assessment which, in the judgment of the division superintendent, indicates that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

In the event that evidence of progress as required in this subsection is not provided by the parent, home instruction shall cease and the parent shall make other arrangements for the education of the child which comply with 22.1-254.

D. For purposes of this section, “parent” means the biological parent or adoptive parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of a child. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a pupil and his parents from obtaining an excuse from school attendance by reason of bona fide religious training or belief pursuant to 22.1-257.

E. Any party aggrieved by a decision of the division superintendent may appeal his decision within their days to an independent hearing officer. The independent hearing officer shall be chosen from the list maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court for hearing appeals of the placements of handicapped children. The costs of the hearing shall be apportioned among the parties by the hearing officer in a manner consistent with his findings. (1984, c. 436; 1986, c. 215; 1991, c. 306.)

22.1-254.2. Eligibility of certain children to earn a high schoolequivalency certificate.

The Board of Education may establish a program of testing for general educational development through which children fifteen years of age or older who have been instructed by their parents in their home pursuant to 22.1-254.1 for three consecutive years and who have completed such home school instruction or who have been excused from school attendance pursuant to subdivision A 2 of 22.1-257 may earn a high school equivalency certificate. (1989, c. 225.)

22.1-257. Excusing children who cannot benefit from education or whose parents conscientiously object; excusing children for reasons of health or apprehension for personal safety; court authority to order alternatives.

A. A school board:

1. May, on recommendation of the principal and the division superintendent, with the written consent o the parent or guardian, excuse from attendance at school any pupil who the school board determines, in accordance with regulations of the Board of Education, cannot benefit from education at such school;

2. 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;

3. Shall, on the recommendation of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city in which the pupil resides, excuse from attendance at school for such period of time as the court deems appropriate any pupil who, together with his parents, is opposed to attendance at a school by reason of concern for such pupil’s health, as verified by competent medical evidence, or by reason of such pupils reasonable apprehension for personal safety when such concern or apprehension in that pupil’s specific case is determined by the court not be justified;

4. May, on recommendation of the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city in which the pupil resides, excuse from attendance at school any pupil who, in the judgment of such court, cannot benefit from education at such school.

B. The court in reaching its determination as to whether the concern or apprehension referred to in subdivision A 3 of this section is justified shall take into consideration the recommendation of the principal and division superintendent.

C. The juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city, in which a pupil rises or in which charges are pending against a pupil, may require the pupil who has been charged with

(i) a rime which result in or could have resulted in injury to others,

(ii) a violation of Article 1 (18.2-77 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 18.2, or

(iii) any offense related to possession or distribution of any Schedule I, II, or III controlled substances to attend an alternative education program, including, but not limited to, night school, adult education, or any other educational program designed to offer instruction to students for whom the regular program of instruction may be inappropriate.

D. As used in subdivision A 2 of this section, the term “bona fide religious training or belief” does not include essentially political, sociological or philosophical views or ma merely personal moral code. (Code 1950, 22-275.4, 22-275.4:1; 1954, c. 638; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1968, c. 178; 1970, cc. 1672, 451; 1976, c. 692; 1980, c. 559; 1991, c. 606.)

22.1-258. Appointment of attendance officers; notification when pupil fails to report to school.

Every school board shall have power to appoint one or more attendance officers who shall be charged with the enforcement for the provisions of this article. Where no attendance officer is appointed by the school board, the division superintendent shall act as attendance officer.

Whenever any pupil fails to report to school on a regularly scheduled school day and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil’s parent or guardian is aware of the pupil’s absence, a reasonable effort to notify by telephone the parent or guardian shall be made the attendance officer, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose. School divisions are encouraged to use non-instructional personnel for this notice.

Whenever any pupil fails to report to school for five consecutive school days, and no indication has been received by school personnel that the pupil’s parent or guardian is aware of the pupil’s absence, and a reasonable effort to notify the parent or guardian has failed, the school principal or his designee shall notify the parent or guardian by letter that such parent or guardian is requested to advise the school in writing of the reason for the pupils absence or to accompany the pupil upon his return to school to explain the reason for his absence.

Upon the failure o the parent or guardian to so advise the school or to return the child to school within three days o the date of the notice, the school principal or his designee shall notify the attendance officer or the division superintendent, as the case may be, who shall enforce the provisions of this article.

However, nothing in this section shall be construed to limit in any way the authority of any attendance officer or division superintendent to seek immediate compliance with the compulsory school attendance law as set forth in this article.

Attendance officers, other school personnel or volunteers organized by the school administration for this purpose shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection with the notice to parents of a pupil’s absence or failure to give such notice as required by the is section. (Code 1950, 22-275.16; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559; 1985, c. 482; 1990, c. 797; 1991, c. 295.)

22.1-260. Report of children enrolled and not enrolled. A. Within ten days after the opening of the school, each public school principal shall report to the division superintendent:

1. The name, age and grade of each pupil enrolled in the school, and the name and address of the pupil’s parent or guardian; and

2. To the best of the principal’s information, the name of each child subject to the provisions of this article who is not enrolled in school with the name and address of the child’s parent or guardian.

B. For the purposes of this section, each student shall present a federal social security number within ninety days of his enrollment. The Board of Education shall, after consulting with the Social Security Administration, promulgate guidelines for determining which individuals are eligible to obtain social security numbers. In any case in which an individual is ineligible, pursuant to these guidelines, to obtain a social security number, the superintendent or his designee may waive this requirement. (Code 1950, 22-275.8, 22-275.9; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1980, c. 559; 1987, c. 374; 1988, c. 163.)

22.1-261. Division superintendent to make list of children not enrolled; duties of attendance officer.

22.1-262. Complaint to court when parent fails to comply with law.

A list of persons so notified shall be sent by the attendance officer to the appropriate school principal. If the parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child fails to comply with the law within the time specified in the notice, it shall be the duty of the attendance officer to make complaint in the name of the Commonwealth before the juvenile and domestic relations district court. In addition thereto, such child may be proceeded against as a child in need of services or a child in need of supervision as provided in Chapter 11 (16.1-226 et seq.) of Title 16.1 (Code 1950, 22-275.11; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 98; 1980, c. 559; 1990, c. 797; 1991, c. 295.)

22.1-263. Violation constitutes misdemeanor.

Any person violating the provision of either 22.1-254, 22.1-255, or 22.1-267 shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. (Code 1950, 22-275.5; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 283; 1980, c. 559; 1990, c. 797; 1991, c. 295.)

22.1-265. Inducing children to absent themselves.

Any person who induces or attempts to induce any child to be absent unlawfully from school or who knowingly employs or harbors, while school is in session, any child absent unlawfully shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor, and may be subject to the penalties provided by subdivision 5 a of subsection B of 16.1-278.5 or 18.2-371. (Code 1950, 22-275.19; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 283; 1980, c. 559; 1990, c. 797; 1991, cc. 295, 534.)

22.1-267. Proceedings against habitually absent child.

Any child permitted by any parent, guardian, or other person having control thereof to be habitually absent from school contrary to the provisions of this article may be proceed against as a child in need o supervision as provided in Chapter 11 (16.1-226 et seq.) of Title 16.1. (Code 1950, 22-275.20; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 72; 1976, c. 98; 1980, c. 559; 1990, c. 797; 1991., c. 295.)

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