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California

October 2, 2009

Continued Opposition to Homeschooling in California

A brand new homeschool mom was in the front office of a middle school in Lake County withdrawing her child when the principal overheard what was transpiring. At that point the principal approached the mom telling her that she could not homeschool because “there was a case decision last year declaring homeschooling to be illegal.”

Unfortunately, the principal either had his facts wrong, or he was trying to discourage the mom from attempting to homeschool her child.

His assertion was partially true. It is true that at the end of February 2008, a decision was handed down that would have made homeschooling illegal in California. Most of you remember the furor that decision in In re Rachel L caused in the homeschool community across the country, not just in California. However, that is only the beginning of the story. The same court that originally ruled that parents could not homeschool under the private school exemption reversed itself on August 8, 2008, declaring that it was legal in California for parents to operate a homeschool program as a private school. This is a complete turnaround from their prior position.

This case was covered by the national media and because of that, it is hard to believe school officials are still using intimidation tactics to try to stop families from leaving the public school.

California is a great state for homeschoolers. They have tremendous freedom, and research demonstrates that parents are doing a great job of preparing their children for life and academic success. But the public school establishment continues to view with suspicion parents who choose to home educate.

Our legal staff had a conversation with a SARB Chairperson (school attendance review board) in San Bernardino County that demonstrates this basic distrust of parents.

The question from the SARB representative was this, “So you mean that any parent can just pull their child out of public school and ‘say’ that they are homeschooling. No one can check up on them, no one can check to see if their curriculum is meeting the state requirements, no one can test the child. They could just be keeping the child home to babysit!”

The U.S. Supreme Court trusts parents to do what is best for their children. In Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979) the Court stated that parents are presumed to act in the best interest of their children. Many school officials still do not believe that despite the demonstrated success of homeschooling.

Despite the victory in the Long case, we still face opposition and must remain vigilant to protect homeschool freedom.