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September 27, 2001

California Single Mother Wins Civil Rights Case

Despite recent challenges to home schoolers' rights in California, Home School Legal Defense Association is pleased to report some good news. You may recall from a prior news item that Ventura County reduced the CALWORKS benefits of Mrs. B, a single mother who was teaching her eight-year-old son at home. The county held that she was in violation of California's compulsory attendance law.

Mrs. B had pulled her child out of public school because he was having difficulty learning. Since beginning home schooling, he has improved to the point where he is now at grade level in all subjects. At a due process hearing on August 1, HSLDA President and attorney Mike Smith argued that Ventura County's action was unlawful because Mrs. B had established a private school in her home and that her school was in compliance with all the education code requirements. Therefore, her eight-year-old son was not truant, but lawfully exempt from public school attendance.

On September 13, 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.

Because of the judge's determination that Ventura County's school attendance policy could be a violation of Mrs. B's equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution, the county must now reevaluate its policy that home schooling parents cannot establish a private school in their home unless they are certified teachers.

Mrs. B is grateful for your prayers and thoughts. HSLDA asks that you continue to pray for all of our active cases and issues involved in defending home schooling freedoms.

 Other Resources

California: HSLDA Represents Mom in Hearing

Ventura County Dept. of Human Services v. Mrs. B