Answers to Common Summer Questions
Home School Legal Defense Association is happy to answer its members' legal home-schooling questions throughout the year, and summer time is no exception. In fact, this is the time of year when beginning and veteran home schoolers alike have many concerns regarding compliance with the law. Answers to several of the questions commonly asked by our California members are provided below.
Q: I am removing my child from public school, and I want to make sure the school doesn't keep his file on record. Can I request that his file be turned over to me? Who owns the file?
A: There are several basic provisions contained in Education Code § 49061 through 49078 which apply to this situation:
- The state board of education has adopted regulations regarding the establishment, maintenance and destruction of pupil records. No pupil record can be destroyed except in compliance with such regulations.
- School districts shall notify parents regarding their rights as they relate to their child's pupil records upon the pupil's initial enrollment and at other required times thereafter.
- A log must be kept of each pupil's record listing all persons, agencies, or organizations which request or receive information from the record and their legitimate interest in the record.
- Parents are not entitled to have originals of the records or to remove the records altogether; however, school districts must furnish parents with copies of any pupil record and no charge shall be made for furnishing up to 2 transcript copies and 2 various records of former pupils. Parents of currently enrolled or former pupils have an absolute right to access to any and all of their children's pupil records which are maintained by school districts or private schools.
- School districts are required to adopt procedures for granting parents' requests for copies of the student records and/or to inspect and review records to the regular school hours. The request for access to the records shall be granted no later than 5 days following the date of the request. [Emphasis added.]
- Whenever a pupil transfers from one school district to another, from a public school to a private school, or from a private school to a public school within the state, the pupil's permanent record shall be transferred by the former district or private school upon the request of the district or private school where the pupil intends to enroll.
- Parents have a right to challenge the content of any pupil record. There is an intricate procedure to follow pursuant to Education Code § 49070.
- Parents have a right to include in any pupil record a written statement of their objections to information contained in the record after a final decision regarding the contested record has been made by the governing board. The statement shall remain a part of the pupil's school record until the original information objected to is either corrected or removed.
Q: Can a private school withhold pupil records if tuition or other fees have not been paid?
A: Education Code § 49069 provides that parents have an absolute right to access to pupil records related to their children which are maintained by the private school. The editing or withholding of any of these records is prohibited. Nor would the private school have the authority to withhold records from another requesting private school or school district.
Q: How can home schoolers obtain a private school affidavit?
A: Up until several years ago, any private school, regardless of the number of students, would automatically receive an affidavit form in the mail. Now, unless you have over 5 students enrolled in your school, you must request an affidavit from your county school superintendent. One may simply call the superintendent's office and ask them to forward the affidavit. A few counties have refused to provide affidavits if they believe the person requesting to use the affidavit plans to use it exclusively for home education. If you run into that situation, you should call our office for direction.
Q: Can counties charge a processing fee for the affidavit?
A: The Education Code does not provide for a processing fee, and HSLDA contends that counties are not authorized to charge for processing the private school affidavit. Should your county attempt to charge you for processing, and you have not previously been advised by our office on responding to this matter, contact us and we will advise you.
Q: Is it legal to home educate another's child?
A: Since home schools operate as private schools in California, one can teach another's child. In order to avoid being classified as a tutor situation, and so avoid teacher certification requirements, the child would have to be considered enrolled in the private school.
One thing parents should know is that HSLDA takes into membership only those parents who are teaching their own children at least 51% of the time. Therefore, the family whose child is being taught by another home school parent more than 51% of the time would not be eligible for membership in HSLDA. Our legal protection pursuant to membership in HSLDA covers parents or guardians teaching their own children only.
Q: Will HSLDA accept into membership families with children enrolled in public school independent study programs and charter schools?
A: HSLDA considers this public school enrollment, therefore students enrolled in these programs are ineligible for membership protection. HSLDA strongly supports the right of parents to choose where their children are to be educated. However, the HSLDA board continues to consistently apply its policy that children enrolled in public school programs, even though they are being home schooled, will not be covered under HSLDA membership.
[CAPTION] Corrie Loeffler, an 11 year old home-schooled student from Las Banos, California, participated in the National Spelling Bee held in Washington, D.C. the first week of June. The Loefflers reported that four other home school students also participated in this year's National Spelling Bee competition. As one of the younger participants, Corrie faced stiff competition, but she valiantly spelled her way to the 6th level. Congratulations, Corrie!