August 21, 2002

California Private School Affidavit Update

We are continuing to work in conjunction with Roy Hanson and Jim Davis of Family Protection Ministries to provide the most current information possible concerning major changes in obtaining and filing the private school affidavit. We will let you know as soon as the California Department of Education (CDE) posts the new affidavit and associated information on their web site. It is important that everyone who plans to file a private school affidavit this October continue checking our web site through August and September, especially before filing the Private School Affidavit (between October 1 and 15).

The following is the latest information we received from the Department of Education as of August 16th:

HSLDA expects the CDE to post the new private school affidavit on their web site in late August or early September.

Schools that filed an affidavit last year (2001) reporting an enrollment of six or more students will receive a letter from the Department of Education as early as late August providing them with a password to access and complete an online affidavit for the 2002-2003 school year.

Schools that filed an affidavit last year (2001) reporting an enrollment of five or fewer students will be able to access the online affidavit from the CDE web site without using a password. As soon as accurate information about this process is confirmed, we will report it to you. Affidavits are not to be filed until the period of October 1-15.

Many are concerned about letters you have received from county offices of education or local school districts claiming that "home schooling ... is not an authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance." This is the same inaccurate opinion that has been routinely propagated by an attorney in the CDE Legal Office for the past 10-12 years. This is not a new position from the CDE. However, the CDE does not have any authority to enforce truancy. The local school districts must do that. What has changed is county school officials will no longer be involved in either distributing affidavits to or receiving affidavits from private schools.

At an August 15 public meeting in Sacramento, attended by Family Protection Ministries' Jim Davis and other home school leaders, the CDE Legal Office clarified that public school officials cannot refuse to provide a blank affidavit form to anyone who requests one. This is consistent with the fact that blank affidavits will be available online to anyone.

It is important to remember that no laws have changed in California regarding private schools and, thankfully, no laws have been introduced or passed to define or regulate private home education. Anyone (except someone with a specified criminal background) can operate a private school, enroll any children they want, and operate their private school anywhere they want (including in their own home.)

There is no reason for private home schoolers to be unduly concerned by changes in the way the affidavits are processed or as a result of misinformation circulated by some public school officials. Neither should home schoolers feel intimidated into joining a charter school or public ISP. The change in the affidavit process could prove to be beneficial to private home schoolers in the long run. However, there may be counties who, in their frustration over loosing control of the affidavit process and for other reasons, may try to take some unprepared home schooling family to court as a test case. Encourage your non-member friends to join HSLDA.

By way of reminder, do not contact state, county, or local public school officials about anything regarding the private school affidavit, including obtaining one. Do not file your affidavit for the 2002-2003 school year before October 1st, and do not use an affidavit form from a previous year.

It is important to check HSLDA's web site (http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/CA/default.asp) regularly throughout August and September and one last time just before you file your affidavit between October 1 and 15.

For more background information on this issue, visit our web site at: http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/CA/200207290.asp

On August 21, 2002, The Washington Times reported on this situation: