Letter: Scott A. Woodruff, Home School Legal Defense Association

Editor: After I sent out a bulletin telling the homeschool community that the Loudoun School Board had put the abolition of the religious exemption on their legislative “wish list,” Loudoun Now published an article describing what I wrote, and what Delegate Dave LaRock wrote on the matter, as “misinformation.”

This surprised and perplexed me since the resolution the board adopted, understood using normal rules of English grammar, called for a world in which the religious exemption no longer existed. The Loudoun Now article unfortunately did not include the actual resolution, so I include it here.

It said:“Supports legislative changes to the Virginia Code § 22.1-254(B)(1) related to religious exemption from compulsory public school attendance to require that a child be guaranteed the fundamental right to an education by his or her parent or legal guardian, in compliance with Article VIII of the Constitution of Virginia, through an alternative public, private, parochial and/or approved home instruction setting.”

I therefore decided to appeal to a higher authority on the English language. Yesterday I contacted Dr. Anthony Esolen.

To give you an idea of his credibility and prowess as a master of the English language, here is a bit of his background.  Dr. Esolen graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University. He earned a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in renaissance literature.  He began teaching English at the university level in 1990 and became a full professor in 1995. He translated a work of Lucretius into English (published by Johns Hopkins University Press) and all 3 components of  Dante’s Divine Comedy into English (published by Modern Library).  He has also authored ten books.

I sent him the exact text of the religious exemption resolution the Loudoun County School Board adopted, and I asked him what it meant.

Here is the answer he sent me this morning:“I think that any sane reading of the text you have given me is exactly what you say.  You have to send your children to public school, OR you are required, without regard to religious faith, to instruct them by putting them in some other public school, a private school, a parochial school, or in an “approved home school setting.”  So there is no longer any exemption from the law for those who object on religious grounds.”

We all make mistakes; certainly I do. But in light of what Dr. Esolen has said, I respectfully request an apology for accusing me of spreading misinformation.

Scott A. Woodruff, Senior Counsel

Home School Legal Defense Association


One thought on “Letter: Scott A. Woodruff, Home School Legal Defense Association

  • 2018-11-30 at 2:20 pm

    I agree with Mr. Woodruff. Respectfully, I would request that that the homeschool community receive an apology as well since we were represented as a group who blindly believes “misinformation” as if we do not know how to fact check for ourselves. 🙂 Prior to the school board meeting, I sent an email to the board that I was opposed to any “repeal, changes or clarifications” to religious exemption. I am aware how semantics work. Any modification actually does repeal the religious exemption option as it stands now even if the word “repeal” is not in the language. As the school board was advised on Tuesday night, there is no problem. Homeschool families submitting a religious exemption from attendance in the public school, are already stating that they are homeschooling, so by statement and implication they are already testifying to the fact that they are educating their children. It appears that the school board may have been the ones to have been misinformed, and I appreciate the board members who realized this and changed their vote Tuesday night.

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