Why Does California Want Fire Inspections for Homeschools?
by Mike Smith • February 28, 2018
A bill introduced in the California General Assembly earlier in February could have a significant impact on homeschooling in the state—and across the nation.
The authors of Assembly Bill 2756 assert that the proposed law is intended to protect children by mandating annual fire inspections of all institutions that file an annual private school affidavit. This would include private schools with fewer than six students—which are currently exempt from fire code inspections.
Why are they exempt? Because these are private homes where children are homeschooled, and private homes should not be subject to fire inspections.
AB 2756 removes this exemption, in an attempt to give raw power to state officials to enter private homes of homeschoolers to “look around” to make sure the children are safe from abuse and neglect. In reality, this bill is not about fire inspections; it is a misguided reaction to the Turpin child abuse case in Perris, California.
This is not the first time HSLDA has faced a home visit challenge. In 1998, we won a case in Massachusetts arising out a school district requiring home visits for the purpose of observing instruction as a condition for being permitted to homeschool. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that it was not a reasonable requirement, and that it violated the family’s right to privacy. We believe AB 2756 is also not a reasonable requirement for homeschoolers and clearly constitutes an invasion of privacy.
Two obvious objectionable aspects of the bill:
- Government officials would be empowered to enter a home without a warrant, reasonable cause, or consent. In other words, this is a clear violation of protections we have under both the federal and state constitutions. Our homes are meant to be free from this type of unlawful state actions.
- The intent of the bill is to protect children from abuse, but there is no evidence that homeschooled children are more likely to be abused than other children. The bill unreasonably and unjustly singles out homeschooling families for this invasion of their homes. If every home with children were subject to this type of scrutiny, society would not stand for it.
Because of its reputation as a political and cultural trend-setter, passage of additional homeschool restrictions in California could influence lawmakers in others states to propose similar laws.
Please get the word out to your fellow homeschoolers and freedom-loving citizens regarding this threat to freedom. If the state can to do this to homeschoolers, no one is safe from its overreaching power.
You can find our summary of Assembly Bill 2756 on HSLDA’s legislation action center here. Simply click on the “change jurisdiction” box and select “California” from the pulldown menu.