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July 21, 2008

Important Recommendations Concerning ISPs

The phrase “Independent Study Program” (ISP), used by private homeschools, has applied to those that file one Private School Affidavit for multiple homeschooling families whose children are enrolled in their school. Some programs characterized as ISPs are part of a private school campus-based school, and others are composed entirely of homeschoolers.

The Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), California Home School Network (CHN), Home School Association of California (HSC), Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and Private and Home Educators of California (part of FPM) are jointly making the following recommendations regarding the termination of the use of the term “independent study programs” in the future.

1. We are recommending that the private homeschool community at large, and the leaders of “private independent study programs” in particular, make a change from using the descriptive phrase “private school independent study program” (and its variants—e.g. “ISP”, “Private ISP”, etc.), and instead use the phrase “Private School Satellite Program” (PSP). This will assist us in defending these private homeschool programs, in which the students’ education is provided by or under the direction of their parents. It will also make it clear that private satellite schools (PSP) are different from public school ISPs, in which there is an assigned credentialed teacher who directs the students' education while the parents are teaching aides.

2. We also recommend that the administrator of each Private School Satellite Program (formerly ISP) include in their count of teachers on their annual Private School Affidavit (PSA) at least one parent or guardian from each family in their Satellite Program (PSP).

In concert with our recommendation No. 2 above, we want to remind every Private School Satellite Program administrators to continue to require “a record of educational qualification of each [teacher]” to be maintained at the address specified by the private school on the PSA (see Ed Code 33190(f)(3).

This change in terminology does not affect parents who file an Affidavit (PSA) for their own private school where they teach their own children, but will affect the remainder of homeschoolers in varying degrees.

You are no doubt asking why we are recommending this change before the court decision is final. During the recent Appellate Court Case, the California Department of Education (CDE) expressed their official position on homeschooling in a legal document they submitted to the court. Their stated position puts into question the wisdom of continuing to use the term “ISP” to describe multi-family homeschool programs. It’s the CDE’s position that an “independent study” program as outlined in the Education Code can only apply to public school home study programs. However, they did concede that one family can legally operate a private school in their home. We believe they were confused by the ISP name, so in order to eliminate that confusion, we’re making these recommendations.

The use of the term “Private School Satellite” accurately describes the operation of a multi-family private school filing an affidavit whether it be a private campus-based school or a private school composed entirely of homeschool families. Each home is a satellite location of the private school with the parents or guardians operating as the teachers of the children in their homes.

We know that you will likely have questions and you should feel free to contact us for further clarification.