Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXV
No. 6

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Some Districts Don’t Give Up

At the beginning of every new school year, many parents decide to remove their children from public school to homeschool. Home School Legal Defense Association helps them through each step of the process of notifying the public school that they are withdrawing their child and enrolling in a private school. We also spend time with new homeschoolers assuring them that if the public school “comes after them,” we will protect their right to homeschool.

Despite all our assurances that the In re Jonathan L. decision in 2008 ensures the parents’ right to homeschool without interference from the public school, every year there are school districts that still try to “approve” private schools. Some new homeschooling families in Lake, Morongo, and Ventura districts have received letters stating that their private school was only valid after the school district verified that they were in compliance with the statutes governing private schools. Some school districts have asked for information on curriculum and teacher qualifications. This exceeds the public school’s authority.

HSLDA will contact the school district on behalf of the member family to explain the limited authority of the public schools vis-à-vis private schools. This authority does not include reviewing curriculum to see if it meets state requirements or approving teacher qualifications. In a decision handed down on August 8, 2008, the California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District (Jonathan L. v. Superior Court, 81 Cal.Rptr.3d 571, 2008 WL 3197535, Cal.App. 2 Dist., 2008), the court summarized the jurisdiction of public schools vis-à-vis homeschool students enrolled in private schools:

We note here that the school district verifies only if a private school affidavit has been filed; the district is granted no authority by this provision to confirm that the private school is in compliance with the other requirements of the private school exemption.

Fortunately, most of our families don’t hear from the school district a second time in connection with approving their private school exemption. Homeschoolers can always give the name of their private school and show their affidavit, but requests for any other information from school officials should first be reviewed with HSLDA’s legal department. Additionally, should a public school official show up at your door unannounced and you are uncertain what you should do, contact our office for direction. We are available for your call 24–7, 365 days a year (through our emergency call back service after hours).

— by J. Michael Smith