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California

September 26, 2001
Ventura County Dept. of Human Services v. Mrs. B
HSLDA defends family threatened with reduction of services

Filed: May 18, 2001, Ventura County

Nature of Case: Mrs. B withdrew her son from public school and filed her affidavit as a private school in accordance with California law. However, she is now being threatened with substantial monetary loss due to her exercise of her constitutional right to home school. Ventura County has threatened to reduce the amount of Mrs. B's Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), saying that her son is not enrolled "in school," even though Mrs. B is in compliance with the private school law of California. The county apparently is taking the current position of the California Department of Education: that parents teaching their children at home must be California certified teachers. Mrs. B is appealing the reduction in her benefits.

An administrative hearing was held August 1, 2001. Mrs. B was represented by HSLDA attorneys Michael Smith (President of HSLDA) and David Gordon (Litigation Counsel); a bad decision in this case could affect home schoolers throughout the state and HSLDA believes that home schoolers should not be punished by the government for exercising their constitutional right to home school.

Ruling: On September 13, 2001, the administrative law judge who heard the matter ruled that Ventura County incorrectly reduced Mrs. B's benefits. The judge found that the county failed to follow regulations requiring them to provide the written standards they used to define regular school attendance. The judge also indicated that Ventura County's school attendance policy may violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, since there are school districts in the state of California and within Ventura County that allow home schooling. Mrs. B's school district does not. Based on this ruling, the judge said she found no necessity to address the legitimacy of Mrs. B's private school.

Status: The Ventura County school district must now reevaluate its policy that home schooling parents cannot establish a private school in their home unless they are certified teachers, because of this ruling that the district's attendance policy could be a violation of equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Last Updated: September 26, 2001.

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