This official Home School Legal Defense Association response arrived in my inbox this afternoon:
Response to California
Appeals Court Ruling:
‘Homeschooling is Illegal’
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
On February 28, 2008, the California Court of Appeals issued a ruling in a juvenile court proceeding that declared that almost all forms of homeschooling in California are in violation of state law. (Private tutoring by certified teachers remains an option.) Moreover, the court ruled that parents possess no constitutional right to homeschool their children.
This case involved a family with a 20-year history of litigation in the juvenile courts over the care of their children. Prior adverse decisions had been rendered by the courts.
This family was not a member of Home School Legal Defense Association. They were represented by court-appointed counsel throughout the proceeding. Since it was by law a confidential proceeding, to the best of our knowledge neither HSLDA nor any other legal advocacy organization had any knowledge that the right of all homeschoolers in California was depending upon the outcome of this family’s case.
There are two appellate options at this time.
First, we have been told that the family is appealing this decision to the California Supreme Court with their California counsel.
HSLDA will file an amicus brief on behalf of our 13,500 member families in California. We will argue that a proper interpretation of California statutes makes it clear that parents may legally teach their own children under the private-school exemption. However, if the court disagrees with our statutory argument, we will argue that the California statutes as interpreted by the Court of Appeal violate the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
HSLDA welcomes other organizations and persons to assist with the amicus process so that a full defense of home education, religious freedom, and parental rights can be given to the California Supreme Court.
The second appellate option is to seek to have this particular decision “depublished.” Depublication is a decision that can only be made by the California Supreme Court. If the Court determines that the decision should stand, regarding this family, on the facts presented, but that the general pronouncements of law for all of homeschooling should not be determined by this case, then the Court has the option of “depublishing” the Court of Appeal’s decision. This would mean that the case is not binding precedent in California and has no effect on any other family.
HSLDA will take the lead in an effort to seek to have this case depublished.
Homeschooling has offered a great opportunity for families to give their children a quality education with a moral and philosophical approach that is consistent with each family’s beliefs.
The ability to homeschool freely in California should not depend upon one family in a closed-door proceeding. All families should have the right to be heard since the rights of all are clearly at stake.
J. Michael Smith
The impetus to "depublish" this court case seems like the very best outcome from this case. Making 13,500 families (plus all the homeschooling families NOT members of HSLDA) suffer for the wrongs of a family using homeschooling as a cover for abuse (notice the "20-year history of litigation in the juvenile courts over the care of their children" -- UGH!!!!!) is simply unconscionable.
I sincerely hope that Child Protective Services will take care of these children, removing them from the home if necessary. But one family's poor parenting issues should not destroy the freedom to educate our children at home for the rest of us law-abiding homeschoolers in California.