March 20, 2007

HSLDA Fights Discrimination Against Homeschooling Mom

HSLDA member mom Essie Tuttle* has been receiving welfare benefits from the County of Sacramento so that she can continue homeschooling her daughter, who is in high school. A misunderstanding of California’s private education law, however, has put this assistance in jeopardy.

Case: E.T. v. California Dept. of Social Services
Filed: December 1, 2006

Mrs. Tuttle has homeschooled her daughters for many years, and one of them has already graduated. Until this year, she has never had any trouble with the County Department of Health and Human Services. This year, however, the Department has cut off certain benefits, because her daughter is being homeschooled. The County has adopted a policy that appears to be based on ex-state Superintendent Delaine Easton’s view that homeschooling is illegal, except for certified teachers.

Parents in California usually homeschool under the private school law, either joining an existing independent study program of a private school or starting their own private school. Mrs. Tuttle has always filed as her own private school. She is in full compliance with California’s private school law, which requires a yearly affidavit and attendance records, among other minimal requirements.

The County Department of Health and Human Services has taken the position that homeschooling through a private school in this manner is illegal. Instead, they are trying to force Mrs. Tuttle to enroll her daughter in the public school’s independent study program, which would make her daughter a public school student. Due to numerous problems that Mrs. Tuttle has had with the public school district in past years, this is an unacceptable option.

Litigation Attorney James Mason defended Mrs. Tuttle’s right to private home education in a year on March 5, 2007. We have not yet received a ruling from the state hearing officer.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.