California Appeals Court Ruling on Homeschooling

California Court Rules:
Parents Don't Have Right to Homeschool 

SAN FRANCISCO, March 11, 2007-- A California appeals court ruled that parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children without teaching credentials. The ruling may affect an estimated 166,000 homeschoolers around the state and put their parents at risk of prosecution.

How to legally homeschool in California

Homeschooling resources and links

FULL TEXT of the February 28 court ruling

The Second District Court of Appeals announced the ruling on February 28 in the child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long. Mary Long was homeschooling the couple's eight children, even though she does not have a California teaching credential.

"Since they have conferred life on their children, parents have the original, primary and inalienable right to educate them; hence they must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children.

Parents have the right to freely choose schools or other means necessary to educate their children in keeping with their convictions.

Parents have the right to ensure that their children are not compelled to attend classes which are not in agreement with their own moral and religious convictions. In particular, sex education is a basic right of the parents and must always be carried out under their close supervision, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them.

The rights of parents are violated when a compulsory system of education is imposed by the State from which all religious formation is excluded.

Charter of the Rights of the Family
, Vatican

The children were enrolled in a private religious academy - Sunland Christian School in Sylmas (Los Angeles County), which considered them part of its independent study program and monitored the homeschooling process by visiting the home several times a year.

The court ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time school or have credentialed teachers at home. The court quoted another ruling from 1953 which affirmed the compulsory education statutes requiring children between the age of 6 and 18 to attend a full-time day school, public or private, or to be instructed by a person holding a state credential for the child's grade level.

Governor and State Superintendent criticize the ruling

Governor Schwarzenegger denounced the ruling. "Every California child deserves a quality education, and parents should have the right to decide what's best for their children," said the governor. "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will."

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced that the California Department of Education completed a legal review of the February 28 California Court of Appeal ruling regarding home schooling. In his statement, O'Connell  said, "I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state."

The question of homeschooling is not addressed by any provisions in the California state law.

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