Good News from California
A California municipal court judge in New Cuyama declared California's compulsory attendance law unconstitutional as it applies to homeschoolers, and dismissed charges against two HSLDA families.
HSLDA board member and attorney J. Michael Smith, along with attorney Jerry Crowe, represented the Darrah family and the Black family. These two attorneys provided the arguments that convinced the judge to dismiss the charges against the two families.
The judge, Barbara Beck, delayed the trial from December so she could research the compulsory attendance law further. She indicated at that time that she wanted to make sure any decision she made was properly researched, because of the importance the decision would have to California school districts.
The school district hired independent counsel, who requested to file a friend of the court brief. HSLDA attorneys objected to the brief, but the judge indicated that she had read it.
After oral arguments, the judge read a prepared statement saying that the state law was vague and unenforceable against the Darrahs and the Blacks. She said the families had complied with all provisions of the state law, including the filing of a private school affidavit. The judge said on the record that she intended for her ruling to protect these families from further prosecution until the legislature cleared of the matter.
Michael Smith said he did not know the full ramifications of the judge’s rulings, but did say it sends a message to other school districts to consider carefully any prosecutions against homeschoolers.
The prosecutor has recently revealed that he will appeal the decision and seek a reversal of the Municipal Courts decision.
Although this is a very favorable ruling, it is not automatically binding on other school districts. It will be of help in other cases, but it does not prevent the filing of charges against homeschoolers in other districts.