Contacts Resolved in California
HSLDA board member Michael Smith and attorney Jerry Crow recently won People v. Darrah and Black, et al. (Case Nos. 853104, 853105, Santa Maria Municipal Court for the County of Santa Barbara, California). The Municipal court ruled that § 48222 fails to provide fair notice and fails to establish minimum guidelines to the local officials as to what constitutes a “person capable of teaching” and what constitutes a “private full-time day school.” As a result, the court held that § 48222 violates the state and federal constitutions and therefore is unconstitutionally vague and unenforceable. This precedent, however, will only have a limited effect because the state missed its appeal deadline, preventing HSLDA from making major precedent in a higher court.
This case did give a victory to the Darrah and Black families and it will serve as a useful tool to dissuade other school districts from bringing charges against homeschoolers under the compulsory attendance law.
Recently, the Padilla family, a member of HSLDA, was turned in to their school district. A truant officer was sent out to investigate. After receiving counsel from HSLDA, the parents met with the director of pupil services and he was totally impressed with the Padillas’ homeschool program. The director wrote a letter telling the Padillas that their arrangement with a local satellite program, registered as a private school, was “completely legal.” He also wrote that “a 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 ratio, teacher to student, is far superior to the 1 to 32 ratio which we have to maintain in the public schools.” He added that the Padillas’ children were properly socialized because of the organized field trips with other homeschool families and their involvement with Sunday school programs at their church. He admitted that “current research shows that this type of support for your children will lead to independent, well-rounded and productive adult members of our society.” The director was also impressed by their exemplary curriculum and comprehensive educational program. Needless to say, as a result of the Padillas’ testimony, the director closed his investigation.
Unfortunately, homeschoolers in other counties are not faring so well. Earlier this month the school authorities in Alameda County sent a letter to all families who had previously filled out private school affidavits.
In the letter, the families were warned that if they were homeschooling their own children, they could not legally operate as a private school. If they insisted on filing a private school affidavit, they would be prosecuted. In order to operate legally, the school district demands that the parents hold a state teaching certificate. HSLDA staff is looking into the matter and is prepared to raise a similar defense as in the Darrah and Black case if necessary.