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Not so Quiet on the Western Front

As president of Home School Legal Defense Association and California legal counsel for our members, I had the privilege of attending the California Association of Supervisors of Child Welfare and Attendance (CASCWA) conference. CASCWA is made up of child welfare and attendance officials of the various public school districts around the state of California charged with the responsibility of enforcing truancy laws.

Two of the workshop periods dealt with homeschoolers in California. Despite the apparent peace between homeschoolers, most California school districts, and the state department of education, there is an underlying discontent among some officials associated with the state School Attendance Review Board (SARB) and some school district officials as well. One state SARB member issued a paper outlining how homeschooling was not legal in California. First he inaccurately claimed that homeschoolers operating private schools are a sham, that many homeschoolers are not truly educating their children at home, and that many were not using state standards.

Further discussion disclosed that efforts had been made by school officials to introduce legislation which would regulate homeschoolers in California. Some school officials expressed concern that there was not enough regulation of homeschooling in California. This paper also indicated that truant officers should refuse to recognize the affidavit filed by private homeschoolers as establishing a private school and should declare the student truant. Obviously, this issue of the legality of homeschooling via the private school exemption is not settled as far as these child welfare and school officials are concerned. One workshop attendee said there should be legislation introduced but that attempts in the past had been rejected because legislators were fearful of the special interest homeschool groups (probably referring to HSLDA) and the homeschoolers who bombard them with phone calls and emails and actually come to the capitol and protest. Additionally, the homeschoolers might even try to unseat the legislator who introduced the homeschool legislation.

I was able to speak to these concerns, and many attendees wanted to talk further and to ask questions about homeschooling when it comes up in their district.

In light of these efforts to eliminate homeschooling via the private school exemption, it is essential that all homeschoolers in California network with their local and/or state homeschool organization in order to receive information quickly should the need arise to oppose legislation regulating home education in California. Additionally, we encourage our members not to allow their membership to lapse, but to encourage other families to join the fight to advocate for homeschool freedom.

— by J. Michael Smith