April 2, 2002

California County Witholds Affidavits

The Sonoma County Office of Education has just released a new memo to all district superintendents, informing them that effective immediately, the office will not issue private school affidavits to home schools. Instead, they will refer home schoolers to the California Department of Education (CDE), which may or may not provide the affidavit.

Last year, several other school districts also refused to give affidavit forms to home schoolers, even though state law requires the form to be filed between October 1 and 15 each year (see http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/hslda/200110093.asp). After numerous discussions with the CDE involving Home School Legal Defense Association and California's state home schooling organizations, the difficulty appeared to have been corrected.

Yet this year's new memo indicates that the Sonoma policy is based on the opinion of new personnel in the CDE. For years, the CDE has insisted that home schoolers may not operate as private schools, although the law has no provision for how many students constitute a private school. It appears that the CDE may be making a new effort to force home schoolers to enroll in public school independent study programs. In fact, the memo to district superintendents states that "perhaps this will give your home study programs a boost."

Sonoma also states in the memo that

it is anticipated that we will be getting angry responses from home school parents and home [school] associations . . . It is our responsibility, however, to enforce compulsory attendance laws and we will follow the recommendations of the CDE. It is my belief that you will find this to be good news.

Apparently, the Sonoma County School District believes harassing legal home schoolers is "good news."

HSLDA will be actively working to find a solution for our members in Sonoma County. If you are a member family and you are denied an affidavit by your local school district, please contact us so that we can assist you.