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Calif. court allows parents to homeschool without credential requirement

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 8, 2008 03:24 PM

The good news this afternoon is that a California appeals court has reversed itself and ruled that parents in the Golden State can homeschool their own children without having to obtain a government credential.

The bad news is that the teachers’ union/Big Nanny war on homeschooling never ends. Homeschoolers are a threat to their turf, a threat to their funding, a threat to their long-held and fiercely protected monopoly.

The ruling, Jonathan L. v Superior Court, is here (PDF).

Details via the SF Chron (and be sure to check the comments at the end of the article for your taste of intolerant home-school bashing, Bay Area-style):

A state appeals court reversed itself today and ruled that parents in California have the right to home school their children even if they lack a teaching credential.

The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles had ruled Feb. 28 that the state’s compulsory education law requires parents to send their children to a full-time public or private school or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home. The ruling caused an uproar among home-schooling advocates and could have made truants out of an estimated 166,000 children in California who are taught at home by their parents.

After hearing from an array of objectors that included state education officials and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the court agreed to reconsider the case and issued a new ruling today that reached the opposite conclusion: State law allows home schooling, although children can be required to attend school if they’re being abused or neglected at home.

Although the compulsory-education law hasn’t changed since 1929, some alter laws “demonstrate an apparent acceptance by the Legislature that home-schooling is taking place in California, with home schools allowed as private schools,” Justice H. Walter Croskey, author of the earlier ruling, wrote in today’s 3-0 decision.

“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,” Croskey said. He said one of those laws, a 1998 measure exempting parents from fingerprinting requirements imposed on private school employees, indicated “a legislative approval of home-schooling.”

Because the 1929 law itself did not explicitly allow or prohibit home schooling, Croskey said, the court should interpret it consistently with the Legislature’s current understanding, along with the views of state government and education officials.

The Spunky Homeschool blog celebrates.

The California Homeschool Network breaks down the ruling.

And here’s the statement from the Pacific Justice Institute:

Homeschooling families throughout California can breathe more easily following a major decision released today in the Rachel L. case by California’s Second District Court of Appeal.

In a reversal of its previous decision, the Court today clearly upheld the right of families to homeschool under California law. In doing so, the court agreed with most of the arguments advanced by Pacific Justice Institute in the briefing and at oral argument. The court deferred to the state legislature, which has allowed homeschooling to flourish in the state with few restrictions. At the same time, the court stopped short of declaring the right to homeschool to be absolute in all circumstances, holding that in rare circumstances, the state may have a compelling interest sufficient to prevent families under the jurisdiction of a dependency court through charges of abuse or neglect from homeschooling. The appellate court remanded the Rachel L. case to the trial court for a specific determination as to the L. family at the center of this case, although the trial court recently determined it no longer needed to exercise jurisdiction over the family.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “This is a tremendous victory for thousands of homeschooling families in California. The pall of uncertainty that has hung over so many families for the last few months is gone. Our attorneys will be thoroughly analyzing this 44-page decision and will be communicating further with California homeschooling families as to its additional implications.”

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