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Parents at odds over children's schooling page 2
Divorced couple at odds over religious exemption

Date published: 4/17/2006


As a single mom, Kaye is an anomaly in the religious exemption and home-schooling worlds.

"For anyone to say I'm taking the easy way out to be a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom--they don't understand. It was easier for me when I was working full time. I had a child-care subsidy.

"I make it work on $1,400 a month. We don't have cable, we don't eat out. I qualify for food stamps, but I don't take them. My conviction tells me that God told me to do this so God will be my provider."

Mark said that with Kaye being granted religious exemption, she has no impetus to be more conscientious about their children's education.

"The School Board is just giving her license to hurt my kids," he said.

When the children visited Mark over winter break, he had the girls, ages 7 and 8, take an informal reading and comprehension test, which was administered by Mark's mother, a reading specialist.

In an e-mail to The Free Lance-Star, the grandmother wrote that the oldest girl should be at a third-grade reading level, but scored at prekindergarten and kindergarten levels. The second girl should be at a second-grade reading level, but was reading well over two years behind, she wrote.

"While some may believe that my findings are skewed in light of the current conflict over their education, I can assure you that I am a professional and would not jeopardize my reputation by providing false information," the grandmother wrote, adding that Kaye never returned her calls after the assessment was done. "I hoped to provide her with some techniques and manipulatives to enhance my granddaughters' learning experience. Teaching is not as easy as it seems."

Kaye agrees that the oldest girl is behind, but not by one or two years.

"Am I being a negligent parent by giving her all the time she needs?" she asked. She said she was upset that Mark tested their children and questions the validity of the results.

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From the Compulsory Attendance Statute (22.1-254):

A school board shall excuse from attendance at school:

1. Any pupil, who together with his parents, by reason of 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 merely a personal moral code.