COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P.O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO NO. 71
December 13, 2002
Jo Lynne DeMary
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Waiver of Pre-Labor Day Opening Requirements for 2003-2004
Section 22.1‑79.1 of the Code of Virginia prohibits the opening of schools prior to Labor Day unless a waiver is issued by the Board of Education for good cause. The 1998 General Assembly amended the statute to define good cause for granting waivers. The amended statute reads as follows:
22.1-79.1. Opening of the school year. -- A. Each local school board shall set the school calendar so that the first day students are required to attend school shall be after Labor Day. The Board of Education may waive this requirement on a showing of good cause.
B. For purposes of this section, "good cause" means:
1. A school division has been closed an average of eight days per year during any five of the last ten years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations;
2. A school division is providing, in the school year for which the waiver is sought, an instructional program or programs in one or more of its elementary or middle or high schools, excluding the electronic classroom, which are dependent on and provided in one or more elementary or middle or high schools of another school division that qualifies for such waiver. However, any waiver granted by the Board of Education pursuant to this subdivision shall only apply to the opening date for those schools where
such dependent programs are provided; or
3. A school division is providing its students, in the school year for which the waiver is sought, with an experimental or innovative program which requires an earlier opening date than that established in subsection A of this section and which has been approved by the Department of Education pursuant to the regulations of the Board of Education establishing standards for accrediting public schools. However, any waiver or extension of the school year granted by the Board of Education pursuant to this subdivision or its standards for accrediting public schools for such an experimental or innovative program shall only apply to the opening date for those schools where such experimental or innovative programs are offered generally to the student body of the school. For the purposes of this subdivision, experimental or innovative programs shall include instructional programs which are offered on a year-round basis by the school division in one or more of its elementary or middle or high schools.
If you are seeking first-time approval of an experimental or innovative program to operate a year-round schedule, you will need to complete and return the attached application for a waiver of the standards to operate an experimental or innovative program (Form SA.020).
School divisions seeking waivers for inclement weather or related programs must complete and return the attached application Form PL.001 for approval no later than January 31, 2003, to Charles W. Finley, assistant superintendent for educational accountability. School divisions that received waivers in previous years must reapply for the 2003-2004 school year. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Finley (firstname.lastname@example.org) at (804) 786-9421.