Present Legal Climate in California
By Michael Smith
There is a growing legitimate concern among homeschoolers and those involved in the protection of homeschoolers’ rights that several counties within the state of California are prepared to litigate the issue of the legality of the homeschools qualifying under the Private School Exemption. Reliable sources within the education community of California have indicated that, specifically, two counties want a test case on this issue. Additionally, there is a strong probability that at this very moment, school officials within one of the county school districts within the state of California are seeking legislation to redefine a private school as one with 10 students or more.
These new developments are of concern to all of us involved in the protection of parental rights in the area of education because we see them as an effort to preclude homeschooling in California. If homeschoolers cannot qualify under Education Code § 48222 as a private school, this will be a major departure from what has been accepted by the vast majority of school districts within the state of California. Presently, most school districts will recognize the legality of a homeschool filing a private school affidavit, but will not recognize any other exemption other than independent study.
The fear that this scenario might occur has prompted homeschool leaders throughout the state of California to be hesitant about drafting legislation in order to try to protect the rights of homeschoolers in the state. Furthermore, it does appear that within the next 12 months, we could see a radical shift in the position of school districts throughout the state, should there be successful prosecution against homeschooling families relying on the private school exemption and/or unfavorable legislation. It appears to me now, more than ever before, that there is tremendous concern within the education community of the state of California that the issue of homeschooling must be affirmatively addressed by the various school districts.
My personal opinion is that homeschoolers are in greater jeopardy of scrutiny and possible prosecution than ever before.