California Homeschool Parents Retain Rights

Published November 1, 2008

California parents are able to continue homeschooling their children this fall thanks to the reversal of a decision rendered earlier this year by the state’s Court of Appeals. The new ruling upholds parents’ right to homeschool their children even if the parents lack teaching credentials.

The original ruling, issued in February, banned non-credentialed parents from homeschooling their children. But because the decision was reversed in August before the new school year began, it had little actual effect on homeschooling families.

That’s not to say the original decision didn’t raise alarm, said Ian Slatter, spokesman for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, a national advocacy and support group based in Virginia. Homeschool families and advocates across the country united to protect their way of life.

“It was one of the most significant homeschool court decisions for the past 15 years,” Slatter said. “When you’re talking about tens of thousands of parents and tens of thousands of children being told, ‘You can’t homeschool,’ that’s a big problem.”

‘A Big Mistake’

Slatter said the original ruling crumbled because the court failed to examine California law thoroughly. Once the justices probed more comprehensively, they couldn’t deny California families’ rights to homeschool their children, he said.

“They just didn’t look far enough in statute books to get the right answer,” Slatter said. “They definitely made a big mistake. They’d be the ones to talk about why they got it so wrong the first time.”

The original ruling evoked concern from several elected officials, with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) calling for its reversal in March.

“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will,” Schwarzenegger said in a news release.

Despite the reversal of opinion, the homeschooling community will continue to be vigilant, Slatter said. The original ruling showed how quickly homeschoolers’ choice can be threatened, and the community must be organized and active to protect their rights, he said.

Jillian Melchior ([email protected]) writes from Michigan.

For more information …

Jonathan L. et al. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County
Department of Children and Family Services et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court, August 8, 2008: