The Home School Court Report
Vol. XXVI
No. 5
Cover
September/October
2010

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CALIFORNIA

Surprising Improvement in DMV Policy

In the state of California, parents are not authorized to teach driver education and driver training (DE/DT) to their children. Parents who want their child to obtain a driving permit must have him or her complete a DE/DT course through a public school, private school, or commercial driving program.

For many years, parents who homeschooled under the private school exemption were able to provide their own DE/DT program to their students without any great difficulty. However, over the last several years, it has become very difficult for private “homeschools” to continue offering DE/DT.

When the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) became aware that homeschooling parents operating under the private school exemption were actually providing DE/DT to their own children, it began denying the requisition forms of private schools not listed in the state education department’s private school directory. (At the state legislature’s direction, the department of education does not maintain directory listings for private schools with five or fewer students. Presumably, any such school is a homeschool. Thus, it was fairly easy for the DMV to determine if a requisition form was being submitted by a traditional, institution-style private school or by a homeschool.)

Thanks to constant pressure over the years from the homeschool leadership in California, primarily by attorney Mary Schofield and Family Protection Ministries, the DMV recently stopped its practice of rejecting requisition forms from homeschooling parents. Instead, the DMV is revising the requisition form to ask whether it is being submitted by a public secondary school, a private secondary school, or a “home school” or private school satellite program.

Home School Legal Defense Association’s first reaction was concern that the DMV was using the term home school when that term does not appear anywhere in the California statutes. But we have been advised that the reason behind this change is that the legislature is interested in collecting data on the success of parent-taught DE/DT as compared to institutional and commercial driving programs.

Recently, the National Driver Training Institute (NDTI) received approval from the DMV for its online parent-taught driver education curriculum to be taught in California. NDTI’s national statistics have demonstrated that parent-taught driver education produces superior teenage drivers to those taught by other forms of driver training. Curriculum and research such as NDTI’s will make it even easier for parents to teach DE/DT in the future.

Please note that the DMV phased out the old forms in September 2010. New forms are available online. On the homepage, click on “Industry,” “Occupational Licensing,” “OL Forms,” and then on “Driver Ed/Driver Training Public/Private Secondary Schools.”

— by J. Michael Smith