September 4, 2002

Victory in California

We are delighted to be able to report to you that no legislation was introduced to change any laws affecting private "home schooling" during this legislative session. The 2001-2002 Legislature completed their business and left to start their final recess at midnight on Saturday, August 31st.

We thank all of you again who called or faxed your legislators. God has blessed us with another victory. We are very thankful for your teamwork and that of other organizations. We can expect new attempts at legislation beginning this December and January when the newly elected Legislature convenes. We are continuing to work with Roy Hanson and Jim Davis who are laboring diligently on your behalf to keep any laws from being introduced or passed that would define or regulate private home education or prevent parents from establishing a private school based in their own home, and provide up-to-date information on homeschooling in California.

The California Department of Education (CDE) has posted their new affidavit form and associated information on their web site on Wednesday, August 27th. Read our important document Private School Affidavit Filing Instructions.

The Department's web site (http://www.cde.ca.gov/privateschools/), where the new Private School Affidavit is located, contains the same misleading information about "home schooling" that has been propagated by the Department for the past 10 years or so. This is the same erroneous position expressed in letters from the CDE this summer, and in letters from various counties, and school districts. Several public school officials continue to claim that "home schooling ... is not an authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance." This is not a new position from the CDE.

Regarding the affidavit process There is no reason for private home schoolers to be unduly concerned by changes in the way the affidavits are processed or as a result of misinformation posted on the CDE web site along with the Private School Affidavit. Home schoolers should never be intimidated into joining a charter school or public ISP.

When you enter the CDE web site (http://www.cde.ca.gov/privateschools/) you will likely read any number of statements designed to discourage "home schoolers" with 5 or fewer pupils from filing a Private School Affidavit. For instance, on the opening page for the "Private School Affidavit - Fall 2002," there is a statement that reads, "Home schooling is generally understood as a situation where a noncredentialed parent teaches his or her own children, exclusively, at home, whether using a correspondence course or other types of courses. Filing an affidavit does not change the home instruction into a private school." A question in the web site's FAQs asks, "Do I need to file an affidavit?" and answers part saying, "A parent who is 'home schooling' should not file an affidavit.... Home schooling, as described in this paragraph, is not authorized in California."

It is important to understand that "home schooling" is not mentioned in California law and parents who teach their children privately at home are not trying to meet compulsory education law by "home schooling." They meet California's compulsory education law by establishing a private school and enrolling their children in that private school (which is based in their home) or by enrolling their children in a private Independent Study Program. An important part of complying with California law for all private schools is the annual filing of a Private School Affidavit. Children between the ages of 6 and 18 are exempt from attendance in a public school if they are enrolled in and attending a private school that is in compliance with the Education Code. The private school's compliance with the Education Code includes filing the Private School Affidavit. Children enrolled in a private school that has not filed the affidavit could be considered truant.

On the CDE's private schools web site, the question is asked, "...am I also required to show the records to the attendance supervisor?" And the incorrect answer that is given is, "Yes.... The certification on the affidavit is not a substitute for showing the records to the attendance supervisor, on request, so that the attendance supervisor can confirm that all of the requirements of a private, full-time day school are being met." This is a good time for a reminder of HSLDA's long-standing recommendation: Private schools are neither required to let public officials view any of their records, including attendance records, nor are they required to let public school officials into their school (whether on a campus or in a home). If a child welfare and attendance supervisor (i.e. a truant officer) or any other public school official were ever to ask you about the attendance of your child by name, you should simply respond as the administrator of your private school by stating that your school records show that the child in question is enrolled and regularly attending your private school.

No public school official has the authority to request any records or materials or to enter your home. If you are ever challenged on this, contact HSLDA immediately. In the meantime, simply ask the person at the door or on the phone to submit their request in writing to the school and say that you would be happy to look at their request. In no case should a parent or ISP leader give out the names of their children or students.

It is important for homeschooling families to be prepared by ensuring their membership with HSLDA is current, and encouraging other homeschoolers to join HSLDA.

By way of reminder, do not contact state, county, or local public school officials about anything regarding the private school affidavit, including obtaining one. Do not file your affidavit for the 2002-2003 school year before October 1st, and do not use an affidavit form from a previous year.

It is very important to continue checking this web site for updates regularly throughout September and one last time just before you file your affidavit between October 1 and 15.

For more information on this situation in California, visit: