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Well, it has been a long 6 months but the battle for homeschool freedom in the state of California has ended for now…with success!! After following this case closely since not long after beginning this blog, it is nice to see such a positive culmination of events in this important matter. Below you can read more about this victory for parental rights. Praise the Lord for His obvious hand in this fight!

The following case report can be found at this location:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/200808080.asp

Here is the text:

A Great Victory for California Homeschoolers

In a unanimous decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District today ruled that California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.

Today’s decision stands in stark contrast to the opinion this same three-judge panel issued in February, which would have made California the only state in the union to outlaw home education had it remained in effect.

It is unusual for an appellate court to grant a petition for rehearing as this court did in March,said HSLDA Chairman Mike Farris,but it is truly remarkable for a court to completely reverse its own earlier opinion. We thank you for your prayers and give God the glory for this great victory.

When the court vacated its earlier decision on March 25, 2008, it invited interested organizations to file friend-of-the-court briefs.I have never seen such an impressive array of people and organizations coming to the defense of homeschooling, said Farris, who was one of the attorneys who argued the case on rehearing along with Alliance Defense Fund attorney, Jeff Shafer who represented the father. The father was also represented by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation.

California’s three largest homeschool organizations, California Homeschool Network, Homeschool Association of California and Christian Home Education Association joined together in one brief to defend the right of all parents to homeschool. HSLDA, Family Protection Ministries and Focus on the Family also joined in a separate brief. Numerous other private organizations came to the defense of home education as did California’s governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction.

We are extremely grateful to all of the organizations who worked tirelessly to protect and preserve homeschooling freedom in California. We are also thankful for you, our members, for your prayers and support during this trying season.

The freedom to homeschool is a precious gift from God. But keeping it free requires vigilance and perseverance. We must continue to work together diligently to preserve this precious freedom in California and elsewhere.

Below are excerpts from the opinion:

We will conclude that: (1) California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education; and (2) the statutory permission to home school may constitutionally be overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent. [FN1: We use the terms home school and home schooling to refer to full-time education in the home by a parent or guardian who does not necessarily possess a teaching credential.]

Although the Legislature did not amend the statutory scheme so as to expressly permit home schooling, more recent enactments demonstrate an apparent acceptance by the Legislature of the proposition that home schooling is taking place in California, with home schools allowed as private schools. Recent statutes indicate that the Legislature is aware that some parents in California home school their children by declaring their homes to be private schools. Moreover, several statutory enactments indicate a legislative approval of home schooling, by exempting home schools from requirements otherwise applicable to private schools.

While the Legislature has never acted to expressly supersede Turner and Shinn, it has acted as though home schooling is, in fact, permitted in California.

While the legislative history of Education Code section 44237 is somewhat complicated, it confirms this interpretation, and also reflects the Legislature’s apparent intent to accommodate home schooling parents.

The most logical interpretation of subsequent legislative enactments and regulatory provisions supports the conclusion that a home school can, in fact, fall within the private school exception to the general compulsory education law.

We therefore conclude that home schools may constitute private schools.

While the interpretation of the private school exemption is ultimately an issue for the courts, we find it significant that education and enforcement officials at both the state and local levels agree that home schools may constitute private schools.

In short, the rule of Turner and Shinn has been discounted as a doctrinal anachronism, and clinging to such precedent would undermine a practice that has been, if not actively encouraged, at least acknowledged and accepted by officials and the public for many years.

Another news story regarding this issue can be found here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-homeschool9-2008aug09,0,858947.story

The article follows:

Parents may home-school children without teaching credential, California court says

Gov. Schwarzenegger praises the reversal by the 2nd District Court of Appeal as a victory for students and parental rights.

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 9, 2008

Parents may legally home-school their children in California even if they lack a teaching credential, a state appellate court ruled Friday. The decision is a reversal of the court’s earlier position, which effectively prohibited most home schooling and sparked fear throughout the state’s estimated 166,000 home-schoolers.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had vowed to allow home schooling through legislation if the court did not act, praised the ruling. 
 
“This is a victory for California’s students, parents and education community. This decision confirms the right every California child has to a quality education and the right parents have to decide what is best for their children,” he said. “I hope the ruling settles this matter for parents and home-schooled children once and for all in California, but assure them that we, as elected officials, will continue to defend parents’ rights.”

In February, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in a child protection hearing that parents must have a teaching credential to home-school their children. The decision caused a nationwide uproar among home-schoolers, religious activists and others, and the court agreed to reconsider its decision, a move described as unusual but not unprecedented.

The issue arose in part because California’s laws do not specifically address home schooling, unlike those of at least 30 other states.
Friday’s ruling essentially upheld the position of the state Department of Education and state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who have traditionally allowed home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts.

“As head of California’s public school system, it would be my wish that all children attend public school, but I understand that a traditional public school environment may not be the right setting for each and every child,” he said. “I recognize and understand the consternation that the earlier court ruling caused for many parents and associations involved in home schooling. It is my hope that today’s ruling will allay many of those fears and resolve much of the confusion.”

The court also said that the right of parents to home-school their children can be overridden if a child is in danger.

Home-schooling families celebrated the ruling.

“We’re ecstatic, happy and thrilled,” said Loren Gould of Westchester, who teaches her son, Logan, 7, at home. “He gets to keep his love of learning alive. . . . The world is his classroom.”

The case stemmed from the Long family of Lynwood, who were accused of mistreating some of their eight children. All of the children are or had been enrolled at Sunland Christian School, where they would occasionally take tests, but they were taught in their home by their mother.

Lawyers appointed to represent the two youngest children had asked the court to require them to attend a public or private school full time so adults could monitor their well-being. The family court declined, but the children’s lawyers appealed.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in February that Sunland officials’ occasional monitoring of the Longs’ methods of teaching were insufficient to qualify as being enrolled in a private school. Because Mary Long does not have a teaching credential, the family violated state laws, the ruling said.

The Longs, the Sunland school and others appealed, and the appellate panel agreed to revisit the ruling. That panel heard arguments in June at a freewheeling hearing attended by at least 45 attorneys representing disparate groups. Democratic and Republican politicians, religious and secular home-schoolers, and liberal and conservative legal scholars all weighed in, saying the court had erred.

Phillip Long, who has said the family chose to home-school the children because of their strong Christian beliefs, said Friday that he doesn’t believe the court was swayed by the legal arguments.

“Only one thing swayed this court — politics,” he said. “This court was under pressure. . . . They did it to protect themselves and their reputation. Those judges want to be Supreme Court judges, they want to move up. They’re not going to do anything to upset their careers.”

Though the appellate court upheld the right of parents to home-school, it did direct the family court to revisit whether the Longs should be allowed to continue to home-school their children.

It’s unclear what will happen, because in July the family court terminated its jurisdiction over the family’s children, though the children’s lawyers are appealing that decision. Long is confident he will prevail.

“Educating your children in your own home preexisted these buffoons that sit on the 2nd Circuit,” he said. “It preexisted this state. It preexisted us. Parents have been teaching their own children since the beginning.”

California does little to enforce the education department’s provisions and insists that doing so is the local school districts’ responsibility.

In addition, state education officials say some parents home-school their children without the knowledge of any entity, making them virtually impossible to locate.

Home-schoolers and government officials have largely accepted this murky arrangement, but the court faulted the Legislature for failing to clarify the rules.

“It is important to recognize that it is not for us to consider, as a matter of policy, whether home schooling should be permitted in California. That job is for the Legislature. It is not the duty of the courts to make the law; we endeavor to interpret it,” Justice H. Walter Croskey wrote in a ruling signed by the two other members of the panel. “Our first task, interpreting the law of California, is made more difficult in this case by legislative inaction.”

To that end, the court said additional requirements for home-schoolers in other states such as standardized testing or home visits should be considered by the California Legislature.

“Given the state’s compelling interest in educating all of its children . . . and the absence of an express statutory and regulatory framework for home schooling in California, additional clarity in this area of the law would be helpful,” according to the ruling.

Statements such as those irked some home-school organizations that are weary of regulation, but were supported by constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Irvine’s law school, who urged the court to overturn its initial ruling that banned most home schooling.

“I believe it’s the right of parents, if they chose, to be able to home-school their children. That’s absolutely their right,” he said. But “the state has an important interest [in] making sure all children are adequately educated.”

seema.mehta@latimes.com


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Here is the latest update regarding the important legal case regarding home education in the state of California. It is an encouraging step towards a hopefully positive outcome for parental rights and homeschooling rights in our nation.

The source for this article is located here:

http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/ca/200807110.asp

Read more below:

Favorable Development in the California Homeschooling Case

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
Thank you for your continued prayers for the California homeschooling case, In re Rachel L. Last night, Mr. L’s attorney in the juvenile court reported to Home School Legal Defense Association that the juvenile court judge terminated jurisdiction over the two youngest L children in a hearing held on July 10, 2008. Mr. L is represented by Gary Kreep, who is the director of the California-based United States Justice Foundation, which has long been a close ally of HSLDA and homeschoolers in California.

Two years ago, the children’s court-appointed lawyers had asked that the two children be ordered to attend a school outside the home. That request became the basis for the court’s February ruling that homeschooling is illegal in California. The appellate court later vacated its own decision and set the case for rehearing. Oral argument on the rehearing was held on June 23, 2008 and a decision could be handed down at any time.

Mr. L’s appellate attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund will be making the appellate court aware of this new development immediately. They will move to dismiss the petition pending in the court of appeal on the ground that the petition is now moot. In other words, the children are no longer under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Therefore, any decision by the appellate court based on the two-year-old petition could not be enforced against the L children.

“This is a significant favorable development toward preserving homeschooling freedom in California,” said Mike Farris, Chairman and Founder of HSLDA.

Keep praying!

Sincerely,

J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

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The court order made against homeschooling in the state of California has now been vacated. Now the court will be hearing more on behalf of home educators. Any previous decisions or rulings made in this case are now not binding upon parents desiring to teach their children, including the requirement of a teaching credential. I believe this is a big step in the right direction, but that we need to watch and see what the future outcome is going to be. As positive as we may feel about this development, we need to stay tuned in to this matter faithfully to preserve our parental rights. We cannot be lax, we must take our responsibility seriously, and not be afraid to do the “heavy lifting”, when our children’s well-beings are at stake. You can read more about this turn of events here:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=59979

The article follows:

California homeschooling gets 2nd chance
Court vacates ban, grants rehearing in controversial case
Posted: March 26, 2008
10:42 pm Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
A California court order that essentially banned homeschooling in the state has been vacated, and the judges who issued the ruling will hear further arguments on the status of parents who want to teach their own children.

WND broke the story in February of an appeals court order in Los Angeles against the family of Phillip and Mary Long.

The Longs say they have homeschooled because of an anti-Christian bias in public schools. The ruling stemmed from a juvenile proceeding that already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed in an attempt to ban homeschooling. The ruling from Appeals Court Judge H. Walt Croskey granted the attorneys’ wishes.

The court ruling said: “We find no reason to strike down the Legislature’s evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the ‘general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence. … We agree … ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'”

The appeals ruling said California law requires “persons between the ages of six and 18” to be in school, “the public full-time day school,” with exemptions being allowed for those in a “private full-time day school” or those “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”

The decision sent shock waves through the homeschooling community across the nation, and a variety of groups jumped into action, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, which worked with other groups on a petition for rehearing before the same court.

The petition was submitted by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation to the 2nd Appellate District Division on behalf of the Longs.

In an announcement today, the HSLDA said the petition had been granted.

“The California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case – the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools,” the HSLDA said in a statement.

“The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case,” HSLDA said.

“The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups,” HSLDA said.

“Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interest[ed] in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California,” the group said.

“This is a great first step,” noted Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority.”

A long list of homeschool groups working in the state previously released a statement on the issue that could affect 200,000 students. Joining were the California Homeschool Network, Christian Home Educators Association of California, Private and Home Educators of California and HomeSchool Association of California.

“We are united in the goal of protecting the right of parents to teach their children private at home without additional governmental interference,” the statement said. “We believe that children deserve to learn in the environment that best meets their individual needs. We support the right of parents to direct their children’s education including, if they desire, teaching their children privately at home apart from any public school program and without a teaching credential.”

The groups also described the appeals court ruling as “excessively broad” and concluded the previously interpretation of state law, under which parents are allowed to set up a private school and teach their own children in their own homes, is accurate.

The HSLDA had sought to have the court “de-publish” the opinion, which also would limited its impact. But the ruling has attracted some attention from the highest levels.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president has supported homeschoolers in the past.

“I’m sure it [the ruling] will probably be appealed, and then we’ll see how it goes from there,” she said.

Among the other responses have been:

Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the California Legislature that calls for the Croskey ruling to be overturned.
Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will.”
California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”
A separate petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the Legislature is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
And yet another petition also is under way, at the ReverseTheRuling.com website. That organization offers information for homeschoolers who want to follow the California case, because of that state’s influence throughout the nation. It was assembled by the organization Learning By Grace, an outreach dedicated to providing parents with innovative online Christian homeschool materials.
Even students are getting their say.

“The court cannot ‘make’ something illegal – that’s the legislature’s job. Sheesh!” wrote Jon Chi Lou, of Heritage Christian High School.

And Hye-Sung F. Gehring added, “This is ridiculous. California is retarded. Always has been.”

The HSLDA also is suggesting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically recognizing parental rights. That effort already is under way under the banner of Parental Rights.

Pacific Justice also is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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