Resolving problems in the Golden State
Here's a brief summary of difficulties home schoolers in California faced this fall:
Once again, Los Angeles, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties would not accept the private school affidavit without payment of a processing fee. And once again, Home School Legal Defense Association advised our members to file their affidavits directly with the California State Department of Education in Sacramento without the fee. If you reside in one of these counties, the department may send you the copies of your affidavit designated for your county and your school district. Simply keep those copies in your files for now.
Every year, our members encounter resistance from some counties who do not want to send "home schoolers" the private school affidavit. This year, that situation was complicated by a printing shortage of private school affidavits, which meant that many counties were late sending the forms, causing many home schoolers to miss the October 15 filing deadline. That delay has not proven to be an issue in most places.
San Bernardino County, however, is refusing to accept private school affidavits filed after October 15. Personnel at the county office of education have been less than accommodating. When one member family called to verify that the county had received their affidavit, they were sarcastically told that their affidavit was "probably the one we threw out because it wasn't filled out correctly."
A number of counties are still distributing an "opinion" letter from California Department of Education Deputy General Counsel Carolyn Pirillo. Her interpretation of the state education code departs from the department's previous position, asserting that home schooling is only legal if the student is enrolled in a public school independent study program, an assumption that naturally disturbs quite a few HSLDA members. Despite Pirillo's "opinion" letter, the department of education and county offices of education continue to receive and file private school affidavits from thousands of home school families throughout California.
In the same envelope as the private school affidavit, school officials from Shasta and Siskiyou Counties, as well as Pittsburg Unified School District in Contra Costa County, enclosed cover letters indicating that the school district was planning to meet with local private schools to ensure they were in compliance with state requirements and to review curriculum and teacher credentials. HSLDA immediately wrote back to these officials. As this article goes to press, we have neither received a response, nor have any member families been contacted to schedule any such meeting.
Now that all the affidavits from across the state have been filed, collected and sorted, more individual school districts may attempt to "verify" that area private schools are in compliance with the law. Because the public school does not have the authority to recognize, approve or endorse any private school or course, HSLDA asks our members to please review all contact from school officials with our legal department.
- J. Michael Smith