Homeschoolers' setback sends shock waves through state

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

"At first, there was a sense of, ‘No way,’ " said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. “Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation.”

The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.

The Second District Court of Appeal ruled that California law requires parents to send their children to full-time public or private schools or have them taught by credentialed tutors at home.

Some homeschoolers are affiliated with private or charter schools, like the Longs, but others fly under the radar completely. Many homeschooling families avoid truancy laws by registering with the state as a private school and then enroll only their own children.

Yet the appeals court said state law has been clear since at least 1953, when another appellate court rejected a challenge by homeschooling parents to California’s compulsory education statutes. Those statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child’s grade level.

“California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children,” Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. “Parents have a legal duty to see to their children’s schooling under the provisions of these laws.”

Parents can be criminally prosecuted for failing to comply, Croskey said.

“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare,” the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Union pleased with ruling

The ruling was applauded by a director for the state’s largest teachers union.

“We’re happy,” said Lloyd Porter, who is on the California Teachers Association board of directors. “We always think students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Education said the agency is reviewing the decision to determine its impact on current policies and procedures. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell issued a statement saying he supports “parental choice when it comes to homeschooling.”

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which agreed earlier this week to represent Sunland Christian School and legally advise the Long family on a likely appeal to the state Supreme Court, said the appellate court ruling has set a precedent that can now be used to go after homeschoolers. “With this case law, anyone in California who is homeschooling without a teaching credential is subject to prosecution for truancy violation, which could require community service, heavy fines and possibly removal of their children under allegations of educational neglect,” Dacus said.

Parents say they choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons, from religious beliefs to disillusionment with the local public schools.

Homeschooling parent Debbie Schwarzer of Los Altos said she’s ready for a fight.

Schwarzer runs Oak Hill Academy out of her Santa Clara County home. It is a state-registered private school with two students, she said, noting they are her own children, ages 10 and 12. She does not have a teaching credential, but she does have a law degree.

“I’m kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep,” she said. “I’m ready. I have damn good arguments.”

She opted to teach her children at home to better meet their needs.

The ruling, Schwarzer said, “stinks.”

Began as child welfare case

The Long family legal battle didn’t start out as a test case on the validity of homeschooling. It was a child welfare case.

A juvenile court judge looking into one child’s complaint of mistreatment by Philip Long found that the children were being poorly educated but refused to order two of the children, ages 7 and 9, to be enrolled in a full-time school. He said parents in California have a right to educate their children at home.

The appeals court told the juvenile court judge to require the parents to comply with the law by enrolling their children in a school, but excluded the Sunland Christian School from enrolling the children because that institution “was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children’s right to a legal education.”

The decision could also affect other kinds of homeschooled children, including those enrolled in independent study or distance learning through public charter schools - a setup similar to the one the Longs have, Dacus said.

Charter school advocates disagreed, saying Thursday that charter schools are public and are required to employ only credentialed teachers to supervise students - whether in class or through independent study.

**Ruling will apply statewide

**Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.

“California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home,” he said in a statement.

But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs’ two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law.

“They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor,” she said. “If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers.”

Heimov said her organization’s chief concern was not the quality of the children’s education, but their “being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.”

:bigyikes:This is incrediblle!

California has one of the most secular and liberal public education systems. I believe they’re mandatory health curriculum includes units on ssa and the transgendered.

This is how the secular-progressives will force all children to have learn their adgenda. :banghead:

California courts have held that … parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28.

What country do we live in again?


Duh, the teachers’ union is pleased. More minds for them to warp in their dumbed-down socialist new-think factories. And more state funding for that influx of home schoolers being forced into their clutches.

I sure hope HSLDA is planning to appeal this. One set of bad parents should not be able to screw over all home schoolers.

I sure am glad I don’t live in California any more. I am not a home schooler any more, but I was, and I defend the right of parents to opt out of the school system. Most do a good job.

If I lived in California, I would be moving ASAP. I am starting to think that state is irretrievable. :frowning:

Contact Gov. Schwarzenegger even if you are not Californian, since it could set a dangerous precedent.

State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

I do not homeschool but I am in disbelief!
It was under discussion on another board and a friend said:

What about all those worthless parents who don’t spend 2 seconds a week talking to their kids except to yell at them and slap them around? Do they get a free pass just because their kids manage to load themselves on to a bus every morning? Shouldn’t our efforts be taking care of those situations, instead of cracking down parents who actually care enough about their children’s education to take it into their own hands?

This was my exact first thought. There are far better issues for the state to tackle than attacking homeschools. I do not get it.

I don’t homeschool, but totally agree here. I think you could be onto something–they are very into a liberal agenda within the public school system in CA, so it wouldn’t shock me if this was the underlying motive. Considering CA falls way down on the totum pole as far as good schooling (from a national comparison perspective), I highly doubt this is motivated by concern for poor education amongst children.:rolleyes:

“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism, and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare”

I was homeschooled in the state of WA and beleive I was trained better in these areas than any of my public schooled peers! This is the most rediculous thing I have ever read! Anyone I have ever known will tell you they can tell a difference between a homeschooled child and a public schooled one. The self discipline level, the curriculum level, and the morality level are way above the norm in a homeschooled student. For this reason, (let alone all the **** public school teaches) I homeschool my children today. I am glad I don’t live in CA. This scares me though, how long will it take for others states to follow?

Don’t contact the governor!

The last thing you want is California politicians who are under the thumb of the teacher’s union and who recently passed the mandatory pro-homosexual curriculum being the ones who decide the fate of homeschooling.

Read this letter from the Homeschool Association of California before you take any action:

This is a clear case of those who are failing telling those who are succeeding that they cannot continue. Teachers unions? Oh please. I cannot begin to express my utter contempt for them. They are just jealous because homeschoolers have such clear, consistent results.

I do homeschool, in a sense. We are part of a public school charter where the state provides the curriculum and the parent does all the teaching. I’m not sure where this new ruling leaves us. We should be OK since our school is part of the state, and we are overseen by a “real” teacher, although we only see her about 4-6 times a year.

Thanks for that link. I read it, found their reasoning wanting with a twinge of consequentialism to it, and do not regret contacting the govenor.

I don’t even have children and I’m shocked by this. Whatever happened to parents being able to make responsible choices for their kids? This is just a way to force indoctrination of children in government schools.

Heimov said her organization’s chief concern was not the quality of the children’s education, but their “being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety.”

And those people would/should/must be their parents. :mad:

Take option number 3 then: HIRE A CERTIFIED TEACHER to teach in your own home. Parents still get control of the curriculum so they aren’t going to be teaching SSA or other sex ed classes or topics parents don’t want their kids to know.

Goodness, parents pay for ballet lessons, piano lessons, youth soccer, nannies - add a teacher to the list - if you can find one who also teaches piano, ballet and is good at sports, then you consolidate where the money goes. Instead of paying four different organizations various fees and having to drive to and from those places on various days, you have it all in your own home and back yard or neighborhood park.

I wish I had a CA teaching certificate because I could probably make a good living offering my services to these home-schooling parents. Imagine the early retirement teaching pool that is available! They got out early because they were forced out or because they got tired of the politics, but they still have so much to offer and are not that old. If I lived in CA and had school aged children I’d be trying to get my hands on a listing of recently retired teachers about now - after this ruling was announced.

Can’t the homeschooling associations in various neighborhoods pool some money together to hire a team of certified teachers? Then they can offer that teaching pool to the parents in the association. Parents can sign their kids up for social studies with teacher X on Tuesdays, science with teacher Y on Wednesdays or something like that. They get together for field trips and such anyway, it just seems logical to use option 3 to satisfy state requirements. It means rethinking, restructuring the current system, but that’s not an impossible task.

Man, the more I think about it, I wish I were in CA…
I’m envisioning starting up a new business…a temp agency…but instead of offering a clerical pool or factory labor pool, it’s an educator pool. The business would be responsible for recruiting, screening, hiring a pool of certified teachers and the homeschooling associations or parents could call 1-800-TEACHER to see what’s available according to their ethics, religion, subject, schedule and so forth, then we’d place the teacher at the home by assignment or contract.

Parents still gain control of what is taught to their children but they don’t do the work themselves, teachers who are parents themselves can opt for this type of flex work instead of working for a state or private institution, the state gets their assurance that the children are being taught by certified teachers, and the children benefit because they get the instruction which will prepare them for the SATs and college admission requirements.


They’re doing a similar thing here in Massachusetts. Fortunately, the health curriculum bill was killed in commitee but I’m afraid it will make a comeback next year. This bill is co-sponsored by Planned parenthood, gay/ lesbian/transgendered groups, pro-abortion groups, even groups who want to legalize drugs.

This is under the guise of “the state knows what is best for the children.” The parents have no rights to control what is taught in the classroom and the courts have upheald this.

The so calle right ot “opt out” is a farce because schools do not have to tell parents when they will be covering these subjects.

So glad our parish school is actually Catholic. I feel good about whay my daughter is learning there.

For all the hoopla of waterboarding, warrantless wiretaps and the Patriot Act, it’s these decisions that endanger the civil liberties of people the most.

I wonder how many people who applauded the decision oppose the Patriot Act and similar laws. I guess they want a dictatorship, only on their terms. :rolleyes::mad:

This is sickening.
We know schools are one of the most hazardous places children are likely to be in today, and we know how children learn best – not being herded like cows and manipulated, but being allowed to explore the world and talk with and observe adults living. But the state wants them herded and isolated and silent – why? Not to teach them, for that is a contradiction in terms, and not for safety, for that isn’t the outcome either. Just for control. Who ever decided the state had the right to control children in the first place?

Please, please pray for us homeschoolers! If the rest of the country follows California, my family will be in big trouble!

There is no Catholic school in the city where we live, and the Protestant Christian schools here have taught my kids things like “Catholics added books to the Bible” and “Catholics aren’t really Christians.” I cannot send my innocent little children to public schools because I do not want them exposed to sex and drugs and the racism that is rampant in East Texas. My kiddos are learning their Faith in a safe, wonderful environment (home) with a teacher who loves them to pieces (me)! I do not have a teaching degree, but I do have a doctorate (MD). Doesn’t that count for anything?

I can’t imagine there is anyone else on this planet who is more interested in my children’s success than I am. Besides, I am trying to raise saints. Who else will do this for me?


Parents have been proving for decades that they don’t need teaching certifications to teach their children well. It is a prejudice of “educational professionals” that you need one. And as Schools of Education have the lowest SAT scores of all collegiate departments nationwide, exactly what do those certifications mean? I want teachers who know their subjects, and got degrees in those, not people who got degrees in “teaching.” That didn’t exist until the last couple of generations, and look where the quality of our public schools has gone.

I wouldn’t trust a CA certified teacher with my DOG! The certification standards are so low, and so many teachers barely scrape a pass on those tests… most parents are at least as qualified and they are more invested in their children’s futures than anyone else ever could be. Also, in many states, upon certification, teachers are required to join the union. If you think I would let anyone with any connections to the NEA or its state affiliates across my threshhold, you are sorely mistaken. That organization is all about robbing parents of their rights and indoctrinating children with liberal, anti-God, anti-family beliefs. Our kids can’t read their diplomas, but they know Heather has Two Mommies! No way, not in my house.

This decision is despicable because it robs parents of basic freedoms and rights. They should in no way strive to accomodate it. They should fight it tooth and nail. When the next court decision says no one should have more than two kids, because more people = more carbon emissions, and says that couples must use gov’t approved birth control measures when they have sex, will you say, “What’s the big deal? Hire a gov’t certified nurse to monitor your sexual encounters and recommend contraceptive practices! After all, couples pay for beds, sheets, romantic movies, and bottles of wine…” Absurd? Yes… just as absurd as your suggestion that parents accomodate the government intrusion in this case.

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