State District Says Homeschooling Not Lawful

Parents who homeschool their kids in a northern California area have all received disturbing letters telling them that to homeschool their children is illegal. The letter states that the children are not being lawfully educated. The parents in the San Benito High School District contacted the Home School |Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) in an attempt to clarify where they stood.

HSLDA was of the opinion that in California, the right to homeschool children had been firmly established for many years, so the letter came as a shock to them.

The letter stated that under California law, homeschools are not private schools, and are therefore not a legal alternative to public schooling. HSLDA President Mike Smith says that in California, homeshools are every bit as legal as public schools.

“[U]nder California Law, a home school is not a private school, nor is it a lawful alternative to public school …” the letter sent from SBHSD officials to homeschool parents read, according to HSLDA.

Less than ten years ago, there was a court case which involved homeschooling. It was held in a confidential juvenile court and the HSLDA was not even aware that it had taken place. The Court of Appeals ruled that homeschooling was illegal at the time.

“Then in February 2008, in a confidential juvenile court case (subsequently known as Jonathan L.) that initially we were not made aware of, the Court of Appeals ruled that homeschooling in California is not legal,” the legal expert informed. “Because HSLDA was not involved in the underlying case, the appellate court was not properly briefed about the many ways the legislature had made provision for parents to teach their own children under the private-school option.”

After finding out about the ruling, The HSLDA appealed to the court to reconsider its decision, and some months later, the same three judges who had declared it illegal, now ruled that homeschooling was in fact legal.

“When the court published its opinion, HSLDA led a large coalition asking the appellate court to reconsider,” Smith recounted. “In August 2008, the same three judges who had said back in February (before we were involved) that homeschooling was illegal now reversed course.”

“California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education,” the judges stated.

“Many school districts and the California Department of Education took the same position that the San Benito High School is now taking,” Smith continued. “But despite years of official opposition in numerous places in a variety of ways, HSLDA successfully advocated for many families whose homeschooling was challenged by school districts and other public agencies.”

Mr Smith and his team of attorneys were amazed that a mistake could be made based on a ruling from so many years ago, and – more to the point – on a ruling which had then been overturned. The team of lawyers made it very clear that this had been a clerical error, and homeschooling was in fact legal in California.

“We cannot understand or explain how a school district today, so many years after the decision in the Jonathan L. case, could still be sending official correspondence that is so clearly wrong,” Smith expressed.

“When we learned of San Benito’s letter, we quickly responded on behalf of our member families, explaining that homeschooling is indeed a legal exemption to public school attendance pursuant to the private-school exemption,” Smith recounted.

The parents who had received the letter were very relieved to hear that they were not doing anything illegal by homeschooling their kids. Homeschooling is in fact a legal exemption to public schooling.

“The private school exemption has been used by California homeschoolers since the revival of the movement in the late ’70s,” Smith pointed out.

While the HSLDA was very pleased that it had chalked up another victory, they were at pains to let parents know that they should still be aware of exactly what their legal rights are, when deciding to homeschool their kids.

“This episode demonstrates the continued opposition to homeschooling by some in California,” Smith warned, encouraging parents to be wary of future attacks and gain an understanding of their legal rights as home educators in their state.

There is, and always has been, a fair amount of opposition to homeschooling in California, and the HSLDA expects more opposition, along with more challenges with the homeschooling decision. Smith encourages parents to be wary of this, and says they should seek to gain an understanding of their rights as homeschool parents.

For this reason the HSLDA goes on to say that all parents who homeschool, should be aware of their rights in different states, as some are more in favour, and others are not.

Source: One News Now