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May 7, 2012

HSLDA Responds to SARB Hearing


J. Michael Smith is president of HSLDA. He has been an advocate for homeschooling for more than 30 years. Read more >>

Because Anna Smythe (names changed to protect privacy) knew that her son Jacob’s special needs were not being met by her local public school, she withdrew him to homeschool and joined Home School Legal Defense Association. In compliance with California state law, she created her own private school and submitted the required affidavit in February of this year.

Nevertheless, local public school officials would not leave her alone. A month after Ms. Smythe had begun homeschooling, the school insisted on completing a home welfare check. They claimed that Ms. Smythe could not establish a private school after October 15 and demanded that she re-enroll her son the public school.

Mike Smith, HSLDA’s president, responded to the school. He verified that Ms. Smythe was homeschooling in compliance with California state law. He also explained that California law allows homeschools to file their affidavit whenever they are created, even after the October 15 deadline.

Unfortunately, the school refused to back down. The school administration scheduled a School Attendance Review Board (SARB) to examine the supposed “truancies” Jacob had acquired. In California, a SARB panel reviews the evidence, in this case truancy, and decides on the next course of action. HSLDA’s local counsel Rex Lowe accompanied Ms. Smythe to the SARB and presented evidence that Ms. Smythe was in compliance with California homeschool law.

HSLDA Litigation Attorney Darren Jones followed up the SARB hearing with a letter. He cited the 2008 case In re: Jonathan L. and clarified that the SARB has no legal jurisdiction over a private school. Therefore, the SARB cannot compel Jacob to attend a public school because he is legally enrolled in a private school.

Neither HSLDA nor Ms. Smythe has heard anything further from the SARB. According to Attorney Jones: “We anticipate that the school has acknowledged HSLDA’s argument and that the matter has been laid to rest.”

Smith clarified why this case is important to California homeschool freedom. “HSLDA must challenge a school district’s misapplication of the law each and every time. If we don’t, we could revert back to a time when the right to homeschool was challenged by almost every school district.”

 Other Resources

In re: Jonathan L. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)