Crisis in California!
On February 28, 2008, as this issue of the Court Report was being prepared for press, the California Court of Appeal issued a ruling arising out of a juvenile court proceeding that declared that almost all forms of homeschooling in California are in violation of state law. (Private tutoring by certified teachers remains an option.) Moreover, the court ruled that parents possess no constitutional right to homeschool their children, other than through a teaching certificate.
HSLDA believes that our—and the California Legislature’s—interpretation of the law is accurate: It is legal to homeschool under the private school exemption. Do not panic. Continue what you’re doing. If you are a family member and are contacted by public school officials, notify HSLDA’s legal department immediately.
COURT RULES THAT
ALMOST ALL FORMS
OF HOMESCHOOLING IN
IN VIOLATION OF
The family involved in the case was not a member of Home School Legal Defense Association. They were represented by court-appointed counsel for the appeal. Since the case was by law a confidential proceeding, neither HSLDA nor, to the best of our knowledge, any other legal advocacy organization knew that the rights of all homeschoolers in California were depending upon the outcome of this case.
We have been told that the family is appealing this decision to the California Supreme Court with their new counsel.
To support the appeal, HSLDA will file an amicus brief on behalf of our 13,500 member families in California. We will argue that a proper interpretation of California statutes makes it clear that parents may legally teach their own children under the private-school exemption. However, if the court disagrees with our statutory argument, we will argue that the California statutes, as interpreted by the Court of Appeal, violate the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
While the court ruled that the teacher certification requirement did not violate the parent’s constitutional right, it did not discuss the landmark Supreme Court case of Employment Division v. Smith or the Michigan Supreme Court case of People v. DeJonge.
DeJonge is the case that relied on Smith to hold that requiring religiously motivated parents to obtain teaching credentials to be able to teach their children at home violated their rights.
Additionally, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the family in the current case could not legally homeschool pursuant to the private school exemption found in the California Education Code. In doing so, the court failed to consider the legislative intent of the California legislature. The court failed to consider three recent actions which clearly indicate that the legislature is aware that homeschoolers operate as private schools and that the legislature approves of this method of homeschooling.
HSLDA welcomes other organizations and persons to assist with the amicus process so that a full defense of home education, religious freedom, and parental rights can be given to the California Supreme Court.
HSLDA Chairman of the Board Mike Farris and President Mike Smith have been addressing the issue on several media outlets, including Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program. We will be regularly updating our website with the latest information on the situation in California. We encourage you to check it regularly—and if you have not already, sign up for our up-to-the-minute e-lert service.
Homeschooling offers families the priceless opportunity to give their children a quality education built on a solid moral and philosophical foundation consistent with each family’s beliefs.
The ability to homeschool freely in California should not be based upon a ruling against one family in a closed-door proceeding. All families should have the right to be heard since the rights of all are clearly at stake.