Officials at a San Diego public school have retracted an inaccurate requirement for parents who wish to withdraw their children to start homeschooling.

We alerted our members and friends about the situation in an email on August 31. You can read that message here.

Since then, the principal of Hancock Elementary school has publicly informed us that it was not the school’s intent to frighten families, and issued an apology for the confusion they created. We appreciate this correction—it takes courage to admit mistakes.

Hancock officials are now stating that parents who wish to withdraw their students in order to begin homeschooling do not have to notify the public school if they have filed the “appropriate paperwork” with the California Department of Education (CDE), citing relevant portions of the CDE website. We presume that the paperwork they are referring to is the private school affidavit which, by statute, all private schools must file annually.

Looking at the Entire Law

Homeschooling in California is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s critical that parents who are new to this educational option have clear directions on how to get started, including how to withdraw a child from public school. 

However, even the CDE’s communication doesn’t tell the entire story regarding how to withdraw a child from public school to homeschool. Neither does the California education code.

What the CDE does explain on its website is how to file the annual private school affidavit, which essentially creates a private school in your home for the purpose of educating your own children. The website also correctly indicates that the law does not require parents to notify any public school their child attended the previous year of the family’s intent to homeschool.

Here’s where things can get tricky.

The CDE also points out that public schools have the responsibility of checking on children who are not “attending school.” So, while it isn’t required, it is advisable to notify the public school your child attended the previous year of your intent to homeschool. 

The difficulty is that public school officials don’t always know what to look for in this type of notice.

We advise our members who are withdrawing their children from public school to submit a letter indicating the child will not be returning because he or she will instead be attending a private school. 

If you have the name of the school the child is transferring to, it’s not a bad idea to include it. This complies with guidelines provided by the CDE to public schools on how to withdraw students being transferred to private schools in CALPADS (the state’s student data system). However, this year, the CDE has informed public schools that they can withdraw students if they have received a copy of the private school affidavit. As a result, some school districts have incorrectly assumed this is the only way parents can withdraw. 

The Final Word

Parents have at least these three options for notifying the public school they are withdrawing their child to homeschool:

  • A request to have the child’s records forwarded to a specific private school;
  • a letter of withdrawal, notifying that the child will be attending private school;
  • or, if the parent has already filed a private school affidavit, a letter of withdrawal enclosing a copy of the affidavit for the current year.

If you have friends just starting or thinking about homeschooling, please direct them to HSLDA’s website for some great resources.

Happy homeschooling!