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July 25, 2016

District says homeschooling is

Homeschooling not Lawful?

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Just when we thought the right to homeschool had been firmly established in California, all of our members in the San Benito High School District received a letter saying, “[U]nder California Law, a home school is not a private school, nor is it a lawful alternative to public school … .”

Mike Smith MIKE SMITH
HSLDA President

The private school exemption has been used by California homeschoolers since the revival of the movement in the late ’70s. Many school districts and the California Department of Education took the same position that the San Benito High School is now taking. But despite years of official opposition in numerous places in a variety of ways, HSLDA successfully advocated for many families whose homeschooling was challenged by school districts and other public agencies.

Unsettling Decision

Then in February 2008, in a confidential juvenile court case (subsequently known as Jonathan L.) that initially we were not made aware of, the Court of Appeals ruled that homeschooling in California is not legal. Because HSLDA was not involved in the underlying case, the appellate court was not properly briefed about the many ways the legislature had made provision for parents to teach their own children under the private-school option.

When the court published its opinion, HSLDA led a large coalition asking the appellate court to reconsider. In August 2008, the same three judges who had said back in February (before we were involved) that homeschooling was illegal now reversed course and held that “California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.”

Clearly Wrong

We cannot understand or explain how a school district today, so many years after the decision in the Jonathan L. case, could still be sending official correspondence that is so clearly wrong. When we learned of San Benito’s letter, we quickly responded on behalf of our member families, explaining that homeschooling is indeed a legal exemption to public school attendance pursuant to the private-school exemption.

This episode demonstrates the continued opposition to homeschooling by some in California, and it highlights the need for you to keep your membership current and encourage others to join HSLDA.

None of our work would be possible without your support. Thank you for standing with us through your membership and through your generous donations to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.

We appreciate your commitment to homeschooling, your support of homeschoolers in need, and your partnership with us.