The Home School Court Report
No. 2

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Affidavit notice may create confusion

A notice on the private school page of the California Department of Education (CDE) website has caused some confusion. It reads as follows:

On December 30, 2005, the filing period for the Private School Affidavit (PSA) for existing schools will close. After January 1, 2006, the California Department of Education will accept submissions of PSAs, statements, and letters-in-lieu from new schools only.

This policy only affects families in two situations. First, it would impact families who began homeschooling after December 30. Second, it would impact families who realize that they did not file their affidavit between October 1 and 15, the mandated annual filing dates for private schools.

If you are enrolled in a private school independent study program (ISP), the ISP files the private school affidavit and this policy does not apply to you. However, if you are not in a private school ISP, then please read the following explanation carefully to avoid any confusion.

The above CDE policy only affects existing private schools with large student bodies, such as ISPs or campus private schools. Here's why: when filing a private school affidavit, you may choose to file as (1) a new school (did not file the previous year), or (2) a school with five or fewer students. Practically speaking, homeschools with five or fewer students will always fall into the "new school" category whether or not they filed an affidavit the previous school year. This is because only schools with six or more students are issued passwords that enable them to annually update their enrollment information in the CDE database; homeschoolers with five or fewer students must file a "new school" affidavit each year.

If you have friends who decide to homeschool mid-school year and you direct them to the CDE website to file a private school affidavit, they should not be alarmed when they see this confusing notice. If the parents are teaching more than five students, they should simply select the "new school" option during the process of filing the affidavit. If they homeschool five or fewer students, they should select the "five or fewer students" option when filing the affidavit.

— by J. Michael Smith