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California

September 2, 2010

Escaping the Threat of Jail

Child & Family Protection Association

HSLDA partners with FPM to monitor legislation and take action on behalf of members and the homeschool community in California when appropriate.

Contact:
Roy Hanson’s HELP Tree
Child and Family Protection Association
P.O. Box 730
Lincoln, CA 95648-0730
Fax: (916) 415-9470
contact@childandfamilyprotection.org

Note: This article appears courtesy of Family Protection Ministries.

California Senate Bill SB 1317 (Leno)—Truancy Prosecution

We are grateful to God to be able to report to you a strategically important victory! The efforts of Family Protection Ministries (FPM), working in teamwork with HSLDA, were instrumental in defeating a proposal that would have eliminated very important due process procedures in California’s truancy laws. In addition, we at FPM are able to do this work because of the support of CHEA (whom we serve as their legislative consultant) as well as other groups and individuals. Most homeschool legal contacts and cases in California have involved an allegation of truancy.

We (Roy, Jim, and Nathan) at FPM worked hard behind the scenes on this proposal in SB 1317, from the time it was introduced until it passed out of the Legislature. We worked with HSLDA to craft amendment language and made sure that SB 1317 was amended to our (FPM’s and HSDLA’s) satisfaction.

SB 1317 was amended to require public school officials to follow all of the reporting and “due process” provisions of current law before they could declare a pupil to be a “chronic truant.” SB 1317 was passed by the Legislature with our positive amendment language and sent to the governor’s office. Because SB 1317 no longer creates a problem for private homeschoolers, it will not matter whether the governor signs or vetoes the bill. The principles of due process have been protected for families facing allegations of truancy. We were prepared to send out an action alert had it become necessary.

This is a great victory!

No action is required on SB 1317.

Background

Had this proposal in SB 1317 passed, as initially written, any public school official opposed to private homeschooling could bypass existing due process laws and simply contact the district attorney to prosecute parents (even those homeschooling legally) for allegedly not ensuring their child was attending school and receiving an adequate education.

Shockingly, the parents’ first knowledge of their child’s being declared a “chronic truant” would have been a contact from the DA’s office, charging them with a misdemeanor crime, with fines up to $2,000 and jail time up to a year. Under SB 1317, the process would have become much too easy for those who desire to prosecute homeschooling families. HSLDA has relied on our due process laws to be able to help homeschool families who are being investigated for truancy by intervening successfully long before the contacted family might ever have to go to court. For this reason, it was critical that these due process laws be protected—as we at FPM, in teamwork with HSLDA, have successfully done several times in the past 25 years.

For an expanded explanation of SB 1317 and this victory, visit FPM’s website.