Justices rule homeschooling in California illegal

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The nation's largest homeschool defense organization is reviewing a Feb. 29 state appellate court ruling that declares homeschooling illegal in California. "We will be examining this situation and providing a detailed analysis of this court decision in the near future," J. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said in a March 3 statement. The ruling involves several children being homeschooled by their mother, Mary Long.  

Justice H. Walter Croskey in a written opinion said, "California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children."  

The opinion further stipulated that, "it is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public full-time day school is required by California law for minor children unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grad being taught, or (3) one of the few statutory exemptions to compulsory public school attendance applies to the child."  

Philip Long, the father of the children, vows to file an appeal.  

In the meantime, the Home School Legal Defense Association is urging parents of California home-schoolers to maintain their educational plans while the ruling is being analyzed.  

"HSLDA maintains that the advice we give home school families is accurate," Smith said, adding that parents may file a private-school affidavit or enroll in a private school independent study program to comply with California law.  

Smith, the homeschool expert, said his organization "strongly disputes this interpretation of California law."  

"We believe that the court made a mistake when it relied on two decisions reached in the 1950s in order to show that homeschooling is not a legal option," the association reported. "If the opinion is followed, then California will have the most regressive law in the nation and homeschooling will be effectively banned, because the only legal way to homeschool will be for the parent to hold a teaching certificate. Parents should not have to attend a four-year college education program just to teach their own children."