Home School Court Report
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No. 2

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Technicalities and Nitpicking

The homeschool families who seem to encounter the most legal difficulties are those withdrawing from public school and just getting started. Although they try to do everything legally and in order, they seem to be barraged with baseless demands and threats from the public schools. These tactics are often unnerving and frightening to new homeschoolers. While Home School Legal Defense Association rarely hears of families being told that homeschooling is “illegal,” many school officials are still misinformed and try to use minor issues to pressure new homeschoolers.

In Oakley, several families were threatened with truancy when they withdrew their children at the end of the 2009–10 school year. School officials demanded that they produce a private school affidavit covering the period of July and August because the public school was in session then. Most of you know that private schools are not required to follow the public school schedule, nor is it even possible to file the private school affidavit until October 1, when the California Department of Education puts the affidavit online.

In Burbank, school officials threatened one family with truancy because the parents were not enrolling their child in an accredited school, and also demanded an affidavit prior to the statutory filing date. However, private schools are not required to be accredited.

In Woodland Hills, one school demanded an affidavit in August, prior to the filing date, because the public school was in session.

On the one hand, parents have tremendous freedom to homeschool in California without regulation by the state. On the other hand, the process of withdrawing from the government schools can be challenging. Any HSLDA member who receives contact from the public school should always consult with our legal staff, so we can intervene on your behalf as we did for the families mentioned above. All the school districts backed off from their demands after we contacted the school officials.

— by J. Michael Smith