Across the States
Schooling at Home
It has been nearly four years since the decision in Jonathan L. v. Superior Court was handed down, in which the California court declared that homeschooling under the private school exemption is legal. (Read the full story of this case in the November/December 2008 Court Report. One would assume that the result of this decision would be no more school districts telling homeschooling parents that they need to be accredited, be certified teachers, or obtain permission to homeschool their children. Unfortunately, Home School Legal Defense Association has not found that to be the case.
If you read the “Schooling at Home“ frequently asked questions on the California Department of Education’s website, you will find numerous statements like the one below, indicating that the homeschooler needs approval from the school district. (To see this page, visit www.cde.ca.gov and click on “Private School” under “Specialized Programs,” then “Private School Affidavit,” and then “Private Schools FAQs.”) Many homeschoolers have called HSLDA with alarm after reading through the FAQs, especially families new to homeschooling. For example, the answer to question four includes this language:
The exemption has two parts: first, parents or guardians schooling their student(s) at home must file the Private School Affidavit, thereby registering the intent to educate their student(s) privately. Second, the public school district listed in the Affidavit makes a determination of whether a home-schooled child has met statutory requirements and therefore is exempt from public school attendance. (emphasis added)
However, California’s private school statute (Education Code § 48222) makes it clear that the school district has no authority to approve or evaluate a private school:
The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.
Section 48222 goes on to define “verification” as a simple confirmation that the private school affidavit has been filed:
Exemptions under this section shall be valid only after verification … that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit.
Homeschoolers need to know and stand up for their rights under the law. We greatly appreciate your support of HSLDA through membership, enabling us to continue to stand guard against any erosion of our hard-won freedoms to direct the upbringing and education of our children.
—by J. Michael Smith