The school year has ended and again the Lord has been merciful in holding His hand of protection over home schoolers in the state of California. Over thirty HSLDA member families were contacted with threats of prosecution by school officials. All of the contacts have been resolved, and all of the families who desired to continue to home school, are doing so.
BAIRD AND ALLISON CASE
On August 3, 1988, two families’ cases that were in court were dismissed by the Lodi Unified School District and the Stockton District Attorney’s Office. The cases were in the Lodi Municipal Court. The Allisons’ case was dismissed pursuant to a representation by the family that they were moving out of the district and the county. The Bairds’ case was dismissed based upon a determination by the Lodi School District that the Baird children were being adequately educated and upon a promise to provide documentation supporting the family’s position that they had established a private school in the home.
The information to be provided was offered some months ago in an attempt to settle the case at that time. However, the school took the position that the family could not qualify as a private school in the home. While the case was waiting for trial, Michael P. Farris and J. Michael Smith met with the assistant superintendent and private counsel for the school district. The meeting produced the agreement that the case would be dismissed in return for the production of records maintained by the family pursuant to Education Code § 48222 and § 33190. Those records include attendance records, courses of study offered by the school, and names and addresses of the instructors, together with record of educational qualifications for each. Additionally, we agreed to provide proof of a business license. This requirement is not supported by the statutes but is being advocated by the State Department of Education as evidence of a bona fide effort to establish a private school as home schooling is not specifically mentioned in California law.
It is HSLDA’s position that the language in § 48222—indicating that students receiving instruction in a private school will not be exempt from attendance in a public school unless someone from the school has complied with provisions of § 33190 (the affidavit filing requirement)—applies only to the verification of the filing of the affidavit. The State Department of Education interprets the language to include the right to verification of the information contained in the affidavit itself. HSLDA attorneys have advised many of you that the above information should be supplied on a voluntary basis only, unless HSLDA receives clear guidance to the contrary by a court.
The question is whether the resolution of the above case will be beneficial to other home schoolers. Although the deputy district attorney made it clear on the record, when he dismissed the case against the Bairds, that the dismissal is not being used as precedent in any other proceeding, a logical conclusion to draw is that school district must have recognized that there was some merit to the Bairds’ arguments. The National School Boards Association, the United States Department of Education, and the California Department of Education recognize the private school exemption as a possible legal option for home schoolers in California. In addition, the overwhelming percentage of school districts in California make the same recognition.
On behalf of the two families and our office, HSLDA wants to extend their thanks for the many prayers offered by members on behalf of these two cases. It was clear that the hand of God made it possible for the successful resolution of these cases.
Parents who have filed private school affidavits have continued to receive information regarding the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. We have been in contact with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and have been verbally advised that this requirement for removal of asbestos does not apply to homes. We are awaiting a formal letter to that effect. Pending our receipt of this letter, you should assume that the Act does not apply to you and should not respond to the letter indicating that you need to comply. We hope to have a definitive answer to this issue in August.
PUBLIC HOME SCHOOLING
HSLDA has been receiving inquiries regarding our response to families home schooling through the independent study program of a public school. It is our policy not to accept into membership families who have chosen this option. This type of program is public school enrollment and constitutes grounds for termination of membership pursuant to our current membership agreement. This position does not represent a condemnation of public school independent study programs, but is simply consistent with our policy of protecting private home education.
HSLDA looks forward to another successful school year with all of our member families. Please remember to notify us of any contact regarding your home school program which is negative or could be potentially negative. The more quickly HSLDA lawyers can respond to the contact, the more likely a successful resolution will be reached.