Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXII
No. 3
Cover
May/June
2006

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Across the States
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CALIFORNIA

Homeschooling Non-family Members

One question frequently asked of Home School Legal Defense Association is whether or not it is legal in California to teach someone else's child. Generally, our answer is "yes." If you have filed a private school affidavit, thereby establishing a private school, then it is legal to enroll any student in your school. However, there are several things to keep in mind.

If you are charging tuition and enrolling enough children to draw attention to your school, you may run afoul of zoning laws or homeowners association rules that prohibit schools and/or commercial businesses in the area where you live. Children outside your immediate family are not covered by your HSLDA membership. Additionally, the parents of the children may not be eligible to join HSLDA on their own if they are not their children's primary teachers, performing at least 50% of the instruction. HSLDA does make exceptions to this rule under special circumstances, so you should discuss any questions directly with our legal department.

If you file a private school affidavit and the number of children enrolled in your school changes during the course of the school year, you are not required to notify the state department of education or update the enrollment figures on the private school affidavit you filed. The affidavit simply reflects the enrollment in the school as of the date of filing. A situation in which you will need to exercise special caution is if parents approach you about teaching a high school-age child. Often, parents look for an educational alternative to public school because their child is truant or failing, and they view homeschooling as a temporary fix. These parents need to be aware that if they plan to enroll their child in public school later on, their child may have difficulty receiving credit for subjects completed while learning at home. This is because California public schools do not accept transfer credits from schools that are not accredited, and most private schools (including homeschools) in California fall into this category. Starting the high school journey at home may require a commitment to finishing it at home.

Please contact our legal department if you are considering teaching children who are not your own in your private school. Our staff can help you avoid the risks associated with extending your program to children outside your immediate family.

— by J. Michael Smith