In the county of San Joaquin and in the Lodi Unified School District, some interesting developments have occurred since the first of the year. Two HSLDA families, the Bairds and the Allisons, have been the object of a harassment tactic by the supervisor of child welfare and attendance for the school district.
HSLDA hired attorney Al Cunningham of Montgomery Creek, California, to attend a student attendance review board hearing on behalf of the families on February 12, 1987. Cunningham convinced the board to not refer this matter to the prosecuting agency for truancy. However, this did not satisfy the child welfare and attendance officer. He continued to write letters threatening prosecution and possible juvenile court action should the parents not enroll their children in the public school or a private school as recognized by the attendance officer.
The position taken at the student attendance review board hearing was that the families were not truant; therefore, the board did not have jurisdiction in the matter. In a very short opinion, the board indicated that it did not believe it could take any action or refer the matter any further. HSLDA defended these families on the basis that they had a constitutional right to homeschool, as protected by the First Amendment, and that they were in compliance with the private school law, since they had both filed private school affidavits.
Further south, the Ventura Unified School District determined that the Crow family, a member of HSLDA, was operating their private school illegally. They held that the Crows were not entitled to homeschool their children even though they had filed a private school affidavit and were otherwise in compliance with the private school exemption to the education code. After numerous efforts to resolve the matter, a student attendance review board hearing was scheduled on January 28, 1987. A distinguished panel of 12 school officials and attorneys sat on the panel while Michael Smith, HSLDA’s vice president, provided the defense for the Crow family at the hearing. The primary concern from the board appeared to be the legality of their action in light of Mr. Crow’s view that the board did not have jurisdiction over him because he was in compliance with the private school exemption, and because he was protected by his religious free exercise rights under the First Amendment. As of this date we have not heard from the student attendance review board as to their decision, but the Crows continue to educate their children at home.
On the legislative side, homeschoolers will be relieved to know that the legislation proposed by a child welfare and attendance officer in Alameda County to Representative Johan Klehs has been withdrawn by Mr. Klehs. Apparently there is another bill in the hopper in Sacramento which could affect homeschooling in the area of child neglect/child abuse. In other words, the bill is a juvenile court bill, which seems to possibly identify homeschoolers as objects of child neglect investigations. As HSLDA obtains further information on the bill, we will notify you. However, your prayers are continually requested regarding the overall homeschooling situation in California.