Update March 27, 2008: the court announced that it would rehear the case in June 2008. More here.
Justice H. Walter Croskey found that parents do not have a
constitutional right to homeschool their children. "Parents who fail to
[comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal
complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to
imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and
The only way parents may now legally homeschool in CA is if the teaching parent has a valid teaching credential or hires a tutor with a valid teaching credential.
This is a somewhat messy case, as it originated from several reports of physical and emotional abuse by the father against two or more of his eight children. All eight of the children were enrolled in an independent-study program, and homeschooled by the mother, who doesn't even have a high school diploma. Through Children and Family Services, two of the children were assigned an attorney, who asked the court to rule that the children must be enrolled in a public or private school. The lower court denied that ruling, and the attorney appealed the ruling. The appeals court made the findings reported above.
The news reports have been casting homeschoolers as primarily fundamentalist Christians. Most of the homeschoolers I know do it because their public school doesn't fit their children's needs (gifted, 2e, or heavily involved in music or sport, etc.)
I wonder what effect (if any) this ruling will have on private schools who routinely hire teachers without credentials.
More details below the fold.
From the court ruling, In re RACHEL L. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. B192878--Download pdf
A Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 petition was filed on behalf of three minor children after the eldest of them reported physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services investigated the situation and discovered, among other things, that all eight of the children in the family had been home schooled by the mother rather than educated in a public or private school. ( footnote: Over the years, the parents of the children have given various reasons for not sending the children to school. Although previously they stated they do not believe in the policies of the public school system, more recently they have asserted that they home school because of their religious beliefs. The father also recently opined that educating children outside the home exposes them to “snitches.” )
The attorney representing the younger two children asked the juvenile court to order that the children be enrolled in a public or private school. The dependency court declined to make such an order despite the court’s opinion that the home schooling the children were receiving was “lousy,” “meager,” and “bad,” and despite the court’s opinion that keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ “cloistered” setting. As noted above, the court ruled that the parents have a constitutional right to home school the children. From that ruling the attorney for the younger children seeks extraordinary writ relief.
The parents in question, Phillip and Mary Long, had been referred to Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services
(DCFS) on more than one occasion, including allegations of physical
abuse of one or more of their children by Mr. Long. All eight of the
children were nominally enrolled at Sunland Christian School, which does not require the children to be physically present on campus.
A lawyer appointed to represent two of the Long's young children requested that the court require them to physically attend a public or private school where adults could monitor their well-being. A trial court disagreed, but the children's lawyer appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, which has jurisdiction over Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
The appellate panel ruled that Sunland officials' occasional monitoring of the Longs' home schooling -- with the children taking some tests at the school -- is insufficient to qualify as being enrolled in a private school. Since Mary Long does not have a teaching credential, the family is violating state laws, the ruling said.
Mr. Long is reported as saying that the appellate court finding was motivated by "hostility against Christians."
I don't think so.
California Homeschool Network
Homeschool Association of California
Homeschool Legal Defense Association