Trouble with private school affidavits
Home schoolers have experienced a series of problems with the private school affidavit during this school year. As we described in the last Court Report, first there was an apparent affidavit shortage. Then, a number of counties stepped up tactics to discourage families from obtaining and filing affidavits. For first-time home schoolers, telephone tactics can be especially daunting. Those who contacted the California Department of Education directly were told that home schooling wasn't legal and then transferred to the legal department, which proved very intimidating.
Alameda and Contra Costa Counties continue to imply that affidavits filed with the state department of education without those counties' processing fees, have not been properly filed. This is not true. No fee is required.
Seven or eight years ago, families who filed the private school affidavit commonly received a letter from their school district, asserting the district's "responsibility" to ensure that the private school was in compliance with California Education Code. The letter would ask families to submit their attendance register, course of study, and teaching credentials for inspection. Home School Legal Defense Association has actually seen very little of this in the last several years, until just recently.
In January 2002, the director of alternative education for Chino Valley Unified School District wrote a threatening letter to private schools with an enrollment of six or fewer students (obviously home schools) intimating that they might not be in compliance with state compulsory attendance laws. He demanded the schools submit their "teacher's teaching credential and a program/ course description/syllabus . . ."
When Home School Legal Defense Association member families contacted us about the letter, we immediately wrote the district, laying out what we believe is their authority under the California Education Code.Does a public school have this kind of authority over private schools? No.
Is it a public school's responsibility to evaluate and approve a private school's course of study or teacher qualifications? Absolutely not.
Does a public school have the authority to distinguish between small private schools and large private schools? It does not.
The only authority the public school has as it relates to private schools is to verify that a suspected truant is attending a private school, and to verify that the private school has filed a private school affidavit.
As this newsletter goes to press, Chino has not yet responded to our letter. However, HSLDA has instructed our members that they are not required to submit the requested information. Anyone who receives such requests from any school district should contact our legal department immediately for assistance.
- J. Michael Smith