Cases in California
HSLDA has 1041 members in California, more than in any other state. Most homeschoolers have filed a “private school affidavit” with the state board of education and are considered “private schools.”
This year, several school districts have written threatening letters to anyone who has requested a private school affidavit form. These letters warn that if someone fills out the private school affidavit but is actually teaching their children at home, those parents must be certified under the private tutor statute or else suffer the consequences of violating the compulsory attendance law.
Presently, none of the school districts have actually carried out heir threat but it does not seem the state board of education will try to stop them if they do. Janet McCormick of the state board of education is head of the private school division and her department is committed to being “neutral” on the subject of homeschooling. She will not state that it is legal for homeschools to register as a private school nor will she claim it is illegal. McCormick recommends that each homeschool family file a private school affidavit and it is up to the discretion of the local superintendent, not the county superintendent, to decide whether he will bring charges against the homeschoolers in his district or not.
The “safest” way to homeschool in California may be to enroll in a local private school satellite program. The homeschool will be considered as functioning as an “independent study” of that private school which involves no requirement of certification. The state board of education seems to favor this approach.
The Darrah and the Black families of New Cuyama have had charges brought against them early in the school year. Both of the families had filed a private school affidavit. Attorney J. Michael Smith, one of HSLDA’s board members, and attorney Jerry Crow are presenting a demurrer to the statute, and the hearing is scheduled for December 9, 1985. Both of these attorneys will be representing the families. This case has the potential of clarifying the definition of a private school and determining whether homeschoolers can file private school affidavits legally.