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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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Things have been quiet for a while regarding the home education situation in California following the major uproar that occured in March. However, things are still happening behind the scenes and it is important that we stay informed and on top of things. Even if California feels far from home for you, please remember that it does not take much to create precedent, and what happens elsewhere can easily and quickly affect all of us wherever we are. So we do well to stay in touch with the current climate towards homeschooling and parental rights.  Here is the most recent update regarding this matter.

You can find the source for this information at the following location:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=64830

The article follows below:

Gov. Arnold: Let homeschooling continue
‘State provides a broad statutory basis for education by parents in California’

Posted: May 20, 2008
10:16 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other officials have told an appeals court there’s no need to dig into state constitutional issues regarding homeschooling since state laws already provide for that choice for parents.

The recommendations come in an amicus brief from California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and others on behalf of the state and its governor.

A ruling from the Court of Appeal in the 2nd District, Division 3 in a dispute stemming from a juvenile case earlier had declared that the state constitution provided no right for parents to school their children at home, threatening the education choice for hundreds of thousands of families across the state.

WND broke the story in February when that ruling was released, but it later simply was dropped when the same panel of judges agreed to rehear the case.

The panel, in announcing the rehearing, invited several interested parties to submit amicus briefs of the question of the constitutionality of homeschooling in California, including the state and its education department as well as several teachers’ unions.

Now the brief from Brown and Schwarzenegger said the court doesn’t have to work that hard to make a decision.

“Here, this court need not reach any constitutional issues because this petition can be decided entirely on statutory grounds,” the brief said. “The Education Code provides a broad statutory basis for homeschooling in California, setting forth three different avenues through which parents may legally homeschool their children.”

The brief said the trial court in the case at hand “addressed only the constitutional issues, it never considered the preliminary question of whether the parents had met the statutory requirements for homeschooling under the Education Act.”

“Accordingly, this court should remand to the trial court for proper consideration of that question in the first instance, and the constitutional issues should not be decided until such time that a resolution is ‘absolutely required … to dispose of the matter,'” the recommendation said.

“The governor’s brief supports the right of California parents to teach their children at home,” stated the governor’s press secretary, Aaron McLear. “It explains how the California Education Code already provides for homeschooling and urges the court to recognize and affirm this important right.”

An earlier amicus brief had been filed by the Pacific Justice Institute on behalf of Sunland Christian Academy, the private school that offers the independent program in which the family’s children were enrolled.

The father in the case is represented separately by the United States Justice Foundation and the Alliance Defense Fund, which have been working on the case’s main arguments to the court. Since the case originated with a juvenile court proceeding, some of the arguments and briefs have remained confidential, because of the standard for handling juvenile proceedings. Other briefs have been released publicly.

“The Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as Article 1, [paragraphs] 1 and 7, of the California Constitution, protect the fundamental due process and privacy liberties of Californians,” according to the Pacific Justice brief, which cited court cases addressing the right to marry, establish a home and bring up children, the right for parents to educate children as they choose, the “private realm of family life,” and others.

“The areas represent ‘a realm of personal liberty’ which the government may not enter,” said the filing.

The governor’s brief said the state provides options for students to be schooled at home with a licensed tutor or through a school independent study program. The third option is for parents, who are “persons capable of teaching” and have met the state records requirements, to teach their children at home.

The original opinion, later dropped, was written by Appeals Court Judge H. Walt Croskey and 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.'”

Homeschool advocates immediately expressed concern the original ruling would leave parents who educate their children at home liable criminally as well as open to civil charges for child neglect that could create the potential for fines, court-ordered counseling or even loss of custody.

Also filing an amicus brief – this one on behalf of members of Congress – is Liberty Counsel.

The brief provides an overview of home education laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and notes that as early as 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents to direct the education of their children.

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only,” the high court said.

Oral arguments are scheduled in June.

The original opinion arose from a dependency case brought in juvenile court. In the process, attorneys assigned by the court to the family’s two younger children sought a court order for them to be enrolled in a public or qualifying private school.

The district court denied the request citing parental rights, but the appellate court overturned the decision and granted the attorneys’ request. The appeals court concluded the parents held neither a statutory right nor a constitutional right to provide homeschooling to their own children.

 

 

 

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