There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families, and there are numerous legal options to choose from when determining the best educational option for your children. We hope this overview of your options will make the first step of the journey easier. We welcome you as you join us on this exciting voyage.
Children are required by law to attend full-time public school or continuation school unless they are exempted. Exemptions include attending a full-time private school. Homeschooling is not specifically mentioned as an exemption, but many people homeschool by establishing a private school in their own home or enrolling in a private school satellite program. Private tutoring by a credentialed teacher is another exemption. Charter schools and public school independent study programs satisfy the compulsory education requirement.
Homeschooling is legal in California. Because the California Education Code never explicitly mentions homeschooling, the right of parents to homeschool their children is open to legal interpretation. However, this is true of many rights not explicitly delineated in the law. Here is a brief overview of the state law as it applies to homeschooling.
Children are exempt from compulsory attendance if they "are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching." (§48222) A private school has been defined as "any school, whether conducted for profit or not, giving a course of training similar to that given in a public school at or below the twelfth grade, including but not limited to schools owned or operated by any church." (Vehicle Code §492.) This broad definition includes home-based private schools as well as private school cooperatives and private school satellit programs. Whereas some of the private school programs operated by others may benefit some families, many families establish their own private schools. This section discusses how to do that.
In addition to the private schools operated by one family for its own children, there are a number of other types of private schools that offer homeschooling programs. These schools range from the cooperatives mentioned above, to for-profit PSPs that file paperwork and collect records for a fee, to site-based day schools that offer independent study, to distance learning programs. Private satellite programs (PSPs) fall under the same legal option as establishing your own private school. The administrators of the PSP file the private school affidavit. Homeschoolers who choose this option should also read Establishing Your Own Private School to understand how private schools are established and what is required of them.
Private PSPs vary widely in offerings, philosophy and structure. Some offer complete curricula and home study assignments; others serve only as administrative record keepers for independent homeschooling. Some families appreciate the structure, the record keeping, and the anonymity the private PSPs may offer.
Private out-of-state PSPs, while useful for curricular support, only satisfy the legal requirements for public school exemption if the school has filed its own affidavit in California. If you enroll in an out-of-state PSP, you should make sure that the school complies with California law. If it has not filed an affidavit in California, then you must establish your own private school and file an affidavit or comply with the law in some other way.
Enrolling your child in a public school independent study program is the legal equivalent to enrolling him in public school. These are the "home study" programs offered by many school districts. Public ISPs vary widely from school to school in the level of control they exert over their students and the services they offer. Many districts offer no independent study options, and in many other districts, the ISP is true to its historical roots - it is remedial in nature, or is intended for delinquent students.
These programs can be appealing for a wide variety of reasons. Some offer children the chance to compete on a school sports team, or give ongoing social opportunities and classes. Some families prefer the structure or guidance provided by a credentialed teacher, and some schools provide the curriculum (and may require assignments, worksheets, grades and standardized testing). Some school districts offer "split-site" options, where students can attend a few classes at the local school and the remainder through independent study.
Public ISP students cannot be given advantages that are not available to the other students in the district. For example, ISP students cannot be offered music lessons if the other students in the district are not also offered music lessons. On the other hand, public ISP students should be given access to many of the same things that other students in that same district have, such as sports teams, field trips, libraries, and, in some cases, the opportunity to enroll in classes.
If your local district does not have an ISP and you wish to homeschool using this option, you can request an inter-district transfer to a program within your county or the county immediately adjacent to yours. Transfers are at the discretion of the district and are not automatically granted. If you are denied a transfer, you should be given information about an appeal at the time of the denial. Appeals are heard by the CDE. However, an appeal might not be granted, and you may need to consider another homeschooling alternative.
The newest method of homeschooling is to use independent study, distance learning, and homeschooling programs developed by various charter schools throughout the state. Since charter schools are part of the public school system, a child enrolled in a charter school program is, for legal purposes, enrolled in public school. Again, these programs vary widely. Charter schools are limited to serving students in their home county or contiguous counties. As with all programs, you will need to thoroughly investigate the program in order to determine if it will meet your needs. Some charter schools offer students the opportunity to compete on public school sports teams, while others are only distance learning programs using the Internet. Further information on charter schools can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/si/cs/, www.canec.org orhttp://www.chartervoice.org
Parents with a valid teaching credential can act as tutors for their children, or parents may employ a credentialed teacher. However, tutors and parents who choose to tutor their own children must fulfill all of the requirements of §48224:
The California Department of Education states as follows with respect to the credential requirement:
"Because the tutor must provide instruction in all branches of study required in the public schools, the Multiple Subject Teaching Credential satisfies the credential requirement at all grade levels. The Single Subject Teaching Credential is not sufficient at any grade level. The Multiple Subject Teaching Credential is valid for kindergarten through grade twelve in self-contained classrooms, whereas the Single Subject Credential authorizes teaching a special subject only, such as math or English. Further credential information is available from the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing (Outside Source) Web site.
The credentialed tutor may be the parent or any person employed by the parent. A tutor is not required to file the Private School Affidavit."
Children must be instructed in study and recitation. The definition of "study and recitation" has not been given, but quite possibly would not include someone with an unschooling style of instruction.
Children must be instructed for at least 3 hours per day.
Children must be instructed for 175 days each calendar year.
Instruction must be offered between the hours of 8 o'clock a.m. and 4 o'clock p.m.
Instruction must be in English.
Instruction must include the branches of study required to be taught in California public schools (see §§51210, 51220, 51220.5, and 51221)
Tutors are not required to file with the county or state or to keep attendance records. However, we strongly recommend that they keep sufficient records to show that they have met the requirements of §48224 listed above. This would mean maintaining attendance records of the days and hours of study, a record of the course of study, and evidence that the tutor is certified for the grade level of the student or students being taught.
Many credentialed teachers who homeschool their children establish private schools instead of tutoring their children because of these restrictive requirements and because certain benefits may be available to private school students, but not to tutored students (for example, concurrent enrollment in community colleges). Still, the tutoring option gives credentialed teachers another avenue to consider when choosing the best homeschooling option for their families.
You can withdraw your child from school mid-year and start homeschooling. Many schools are supportive of homeschooling and can provide you with help and resources. However, withdrawing a child mid-year may be a little more complicated than starting homeschooling at the beginning of the school year, because the school has a record of your child and may be unwilling to lose a student. The school loses funding attributable to your child. We do recommend that you not tell the school that you are going to homeschool (see the discussion following) but rather tell them that you are transferring your child to another school, as they may try to convince you that you are not capable of teaching your child or that you cannot legally homeschool, especially if you are setting up your own home-based private school. They may even threaten you with a report to the truancy officer. As long as you follow the legal requirements set forth above, you can withdraw your child from public or private school and legally homeschool.
If you decide to start your own school, prepare the documentation noted above and remove your child from school. You also need to consider whether to file the private school affidavit immediately (see the discussion under the tab titled: "Filing the Affidavit After October 15).
When you take your child out of school, tell the school that your child will be attending another school and give it the name. Because the CDE's old memos stating that homeschooling is illegal are still floating around in the minds and files of many public school officials, we recommend that you not mention the word "homeschooling." You can tell school officials whether you intend to use a public or private school, but you are not obligated to give them any more information than that. If your child will be enrolled in a school run by someone else, that person will write the former school and ask for the child's cumulative file (§49068). If you are starting your own private school, then promptly write a professional letter to the former school on your school letterhead advising the administrators there that your child has been enrolled in (your school name) and request his or her cumulative file (see a sample letter). Sending this letter should close the school's file on your child so that s/he can't be considered truant. The school is required to give you your child's cumulative file (it can be a copy rather than an original), although many schools don't seem to be able to do this. You are also entitled, as a parent, to have a copy of the cumulative file. If you really want to have a copy, we recommend going to the office in your role as a parent, not a school official, and offering to make the copies yourself, or giving them a stamped envelope, or any other help that makes it easier for them to comply. As long as you properly sent the request for the file, failure to receive the copy does not have any legal importance.
If you pull your child out as a result of truancy or other unresolved problems with the school, the school may fight your efforts by continuing with a truancy hearing or denying the validity of your new school. Although you are still entitled to educate your children at home using any of the options described above, you will need to weigh the practical and financial alternatives of continued controversy or litigation against other alternatives the truancy board might accept. In some cases, they may look more favorably on a program offered by a public or charter school or commercial private school rather than a home-based private school. Please contact the HSC legal team for more information if you are in this situation.
Although it is legal to homeschool after a divorce or in a situation where the other parent does not agree with homeschooling, the ultimate decision as to whether you can homeschool your children may be up to the Family Law Court. The judge will make a decision based upon the evidence presented at the court hearing regarding what is in the child's best interest. Generally, courts tend to order that the children remain in the status quo. Children who are enrolled in public school stay in public school, children who are in private school stay in private school, and children who are homeschooled continue homeschooling. If you cannot reach an agreement with your child's other parent, you will need to consult with a local attorney for guidance. HSC can assist your attorney with information about the legality of homeschooling in California and experts favorable to homeschooling.
Before you commence an expensive battle, which invariably hurts the children, it is helpful if you consider other alternatives. It may be helpful if you educate the other parent about the benefits of homeschooling and how that parent can have both more and flexible time with the children because they are not tied to the public school schedule. Involve the parent in the educational process. If finances are the underlying issue, consider whether and how you can work and homeschool your children. It may be that the other parent is concerned about accountability. You can meet this concern by involving the other parent in the educational process, choosing a charter school or public school independent study program (ISP), enrolling in a private school satellite program (PSP), or involving a third party in the process, such as a tutor or evaluator.
Keep in mind that your goal is to do what is in the best interest of your children. Each custody situation is unique, and your attorney can guide you to choose the best option for your family. If you have the ability to shape the language of the custody agreement, ask that you be given "sole educational custody," which gives you the ability to control your children's education without the other spouse's input.
The following note was written in response to a question from a parent in another state who had recently lost custody of her child because she intended to homeschool. She asked what homeschoolers could do to so others would not lose custody they way she did. The following answer applies equally to Californians.
The biggest problem with the issue of custody battles involving homeschooling is that both parents have to agree to the educational choice, or the judge is most likely to order a public school. This is true whether the alternative is private school or homeschooling. In my experience, in those cases where the child has been a long-time homeschooler or private school student and both parents agreed, the court will allow the homeschooling or private school to continue. However, I have also seen situations where the court has ordered that the child return to public school.
When you put the decision regarding custody and schooling in the hands of a mediator or a judge, neither one of you is going to like the result. My advise is to do whatever you can to try to maintain a cordial or friendly relationship with the other parent of your children so that your children can have as normal and healthy a relationship as possible and so that you can make decisions together about their schooling. When children are made the center of the battle it does not matter where they go to school. They will lose.
I am an advocate of homeschooling. However, the reason we homeschool is so that we can do the best we possibly can for our children. One of the best things we can do for our children is show them how, even after splitting up with their other parent, you can have a relationship with him/her. That relationship usually means that sometimes you will have to compromise.
Talk to the other parent. Find out what their objection is. Maybe it is something simple like they are afraid they will lose their own relationship with the child or they want some verification that the child is learning and has friends and will not lose college opportunities. Perhaps it is more complicated. Whatever the reason, just talking about it may help you understand each other and help you reach a resolution. Provide the other parent with as much information about homeschooling as you possibly can. Perhaps they will agree to go to a homeschooling conference with you. Make sure that the conference truly reflects your philosophy of homeschooling.
When you do have to get an attorney, call and interview several. Ask them what their experience is with homeschoolers and if they support that choice, or if they are willing to read materials that you provide them about homeschooling. Then you will need to go to the bookstore and get them some books on homeschooling. There are several good books out there, including David Gutersonís Family Matters, Why Homeschooling Makes Sense, and John Taylor Gattoís book Dumbing Us Down.
Once you get to the mediators, you need to do the same thing. They will not have time to read entire books, but you may find articles about homeschooling written by respected educators and names that will make them think more deeply about the homeschooling choice.
If you do end up having to go to court, and the mediators are against your choice, you will need to hire an expert to testify on your behalf. Again, you will need to contact several experts and ask them about their experience, opinions and positions regarding homeschooling. Ask them if they are willing to educate themselves, and provide them with material to do so.
When you go to court, you need to make it clear that your interest in homeschooling is because it is in the best interest of the child. Emphasize the educational advantages, the social advantages, and the advantages to the other parent. Show the court how willing you are to share custody and involve the other parent in the childís education. Emphasize how much more flexible time the other parent can spend with your child if you homeschool.
Be aware that one of the arguments against homeschooling is that you may require more support in order to stay home and educate your child. Although you may not like this argument, parents are equally responsible for the financial needs of their child. If a parent makes a life choice to not earn money up to their fullest capacity, then that will be held against them when the court makes decisions regarding child and spousal support. I have seen in the case of fathers choosing to change their careers or quitting in order to get out of child support payments, the courts have ordered support at the level of their earning capacity.
As you can see from this email, there are many factors that go in to the decision of the court in determining the custody of the child. These factors include primarily what the judge thinks is in the best interest of the child, and the judge may consider many factors including access to the other parent, financial ability to support the child, status quo, which parent appears most reasonable, etc.
Judges do make mistakes. They can only make a decision based on the information they have. You cannot expect them to support homeschooling when they do not understand it or know anything about it. It is your job to educate them about homeschooling.
Judges, lawyers and experts usually have compulsory continuing education. It may be worthwhile for homeschool advocates to offer educational courses for professionals about homeschooling. I would suggest contacting state bar associations, judicial associations and expert associations. See what needs to be done to set up educational programs, and if you can line up experts to speak who will be accepted at the educational programs. Find experts to write articles about homeschooling for professional magazines. Brainstorm among your statewide homeschooling group and donate your time and energy to get this work done.
The compulsory attendance laws are enforced by attendance officers, usually at the district level (and never by the California Department of Education). While most attendance officers work on very serious truancy cases and leave homeschooling families alone, there may be one or two who dislike homeschooling and who may try to investigate families for truancy.
It is extremely rare for truancy officers to come to the door, and the vast majority of homeschooling families never have any contact with these officials. Most (but not all) investigations of truancy cases involving homeschoolers start because the children were removed from a public or private school without first complying with one of the legal ways to homeschool, because they were involved in truancy issues prior to leaving school, or because they had come to the attention of Children's Protective Services for abuse or neglect.
If someone comes to your door, the first thing you should do is ask to see official identification. Do not allow the person in your home unless s/he has a warrant entitling him or her to enter. If you leave that person's presence, such as to retrieve documents, you should shut the door behind you until you return.
The legal team has prepared a letter (see "Open Letter on Legality of Homeschooling") that you can give to any truancy officer or other government official who wants to know why your children are not in public school. The letter explains what statutory authority there is for parents forming their own home-based private schools and covers which documents the state has the authority to see and which it does not. We recommend that you print out a copy of this letter and put it in the binder you keep with your copy of your affidavit, and give it to any such person at the time you show them your affidavit.
Truancy investigations can only be started if officials have the name of a child. If anyone comes asking questions, but does not know your child's name, that person has no authority. Do not tell them your child's name and politely insist that they leave. If s/he does have the child's name, the attendance supervisor (truant officer) is only authorized to verify that the student is enrolled in and attending a legal school. If your child is in a public program, give the truancy officer the administrator's name. If your child is in a private school operated by someone else, you should have a copy of the letter confirming the child's attendance. The attendance officer needs to contact the school administrator for other information. If you operate your own school, then the officer is entitled to verify that your child is attending the private school (which is why you need the letter) and that the "private school has complied with the provisions of §33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction" (§§48321.5 and 48415). Therefore, in the extremely unlikely event that the local attendance officer comes to your door, you should get the binder, referenced earlier in Section II, that has a copy of the filed private school affidavit, attendance records, and the letter on school letterhead confirming that the child is enrolled in and attending that school. (if the school was formed after October 15 in that year, you should have considered whether to file the affidavit or not for that year. See the discussion of the private school option. Neither a truancy officer nor a social worker has the authority to obtain additional information or records. If s/he believes that s/he does, ask her/him to show you the legal authority for the request. You may want to keep a copy of the relevant code sections in your binder.
While providing these documents usually resolves the issues, in rare cases the attendance officer may, on being shown proof of the school's compliance and the child's enrollment, then claim that the private school that the children attend is not legal, and that the children are, therefore, truant. District attorneys have attempted prosecution in a few such cases, although we are not aware of a case where they have been successful. If an attendance officer attempts to escalate a claim, an attorney's help may be needed. Please contact the HSC Legal Team for possible referral to experienced attorneys.
Although an investigation by Children Protective Services is extremely unlikely, anyone can be the target. All CPS cases start as a result of a referral to a governmental agency. Educational neglect alone cannot be a basis for an investigation and police officers and CPS workers cannot enter your home without a warrant. If CPS gets a report of neglect, they are required to investigate, and that investigation may include a visit to your home. It can be an unnerving and dispiriting experience.
If a social worker or police officer appears at your door, you should first ask to see official identification. Under no circumstances should you let social workers or police officers into your home without a warrant. Moreover, you should never say anything that could be interpreted by the authorities to mean that you gave permission for them to enter your home. If you need to leave their presence, such as to retrieve documents, for example, you should close the door behind you until you return. If they enter your home without your permission and without a warrant, they may be subject to a lawsuit for damages and the evidence they may seize may be excluded from the legal proceedings. Do not give up your constitutional rights.
What happens if a social worker returns with the police? Make sure they have a warrant! Be polite and non-confrontational, but firm. In order to get a warrant, the social worker needs to contact the police, the police must contact the district attorney, and the DA contacts a judge. They need to present credible evidence before a warrant can be issued. If you think there is a likelihood that a warrant could be issued, contact a criminal or juvenile dependency lawyer immediately. If they are able to get a warrant, contact a friend to come over as a witness, to take notes and videotape everything. Call HSC if homeschooling issues might be involved.
Avoiding referrals is the best way to prevent CPS intervention in your homeschooling experience. Compliance with one of the legal ways to homeschool is crucial. The following factors may result in a referral: Pulling children out of public or private school after a dispute with the school (i.e.: ongoing truancy problems); custody battles; welfare referrals; or neighborhood disputes. What can you do if you are in one of the "high-risk" groups for referral? First, it may be in your family's best interest to consider a public independent study program, a charter school offering homeschooling, or a program offered by a commercial private school. Second, know your legal rights.
If you are involved in a custody situation or are investigated by Children's Protective Services, you will need to consult immediately with a local attorney who is familiar with not only homeschool law but also custody and juvenile dependency law. If you ever have any hostile contacts regarding homeschooling, please inform an HSC board member. HSC maintains a list of attorneys and experts with experience in these areas or can assist your attorney with homeschooling questions.
Families should be able to receive welfare benefits and still homeschool their children using any of the legal options, including operating a home-based private school. As soon as a homeschool family is denied welfare benefits based on a truancy allegation, a verification of enrollment and attendance in school should be provided to the agency, together with a copy of the private school affidavit, if you operate your own school. Under most circumstances, no additional school records or information should be given to the agencies. Your local legal aid office can help you keep your benefits. If the attorney needs information about the legality of homeschooling, he or she can contact HSC Legal (or 1-888-HSC-4440) for further information. Most of these cases can be handled quickly and easily at the first contact, but become more complicated if not handled effectively at the beginning.
Some communities have passed daytime curfew laws, probably to combat truancy or gang activity. These laws allow children to be cited if they are in any public place other than a school during the hours that schools normally are in session. Unfortunately, they are all written differently, so you need to read yours. But most have language something like this:
"It is unlawful for any minor under the age of eighteen years, who is subject to compulsory education or to compulsory continuation education, to loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon public street, highway, road, alley, park, playground, parking area, or other public ground, public place or public building, place of amusement or eating place, vacant lot, or any place open to the public in the unincorporated area of the County of San Bernardino, State of California, during those hours that his or her school is in session."
Notice the words "during those hours that his or her school is in session." This raises the interesting question of when schools where children are being taught at home are (or are not) in session. But you should assume, if you live in a community with a daytime curfew law, that police officers will think that any child out and about when the local public schools are in session is guilty of violating the law, even if you've given your child permission to go out for a while.
If you live in a community with a daytime curfew, HSC makes several recommendations for times when your child might be out in the community (such as at a park, library or restaurant) without you present. First, tell your child that if s/he is stopped without you there by a police or truancy officer, the child should not say that s/he is homeschooled. Tell your child to say that s/he is in a [charter school, public school independent study program, private school], whatever is the case. These officers don't like the "homeschool" word and it would be best not to trigger whatever negative associations they have with it. Second, you should make sure that your child has two things in his or her pockets. The first is a school identification card, which you can create on your computer at home (best if it has a picture of your child), giving the name/address/phone number of the school, child's name, age and grade (just put down what grade they'd be in if they were in school with their age group). You can laminate it (Kinkos can do that). The other thing to have in his or her pocket is a permission slip saying that the child has permission from the school to be off the property. Print up some slips with your school's name, street address and phone number at the top and with blanks for the date and time and name saying something like "On [write in the date], [print the name of school] ended its day at [write in the time]. The following student, [write in the name of student], has permission to be off of school property." Then have a signature line with a place for the signer to write his or her title under the signature.
Make sure your child is aware of the risk that he or she may be stopped and questioned by the police, tell him or her that he or she should be prepared to show the authority the school identification card and permission slip, and if possible give him or her a cell phone so s/he is able to get in touch with you at all times.
Recently a few parents have asked whether public schools can refuse to accept credits from non-accredited schools, including private homeschools. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. In fact, they don't have to accept credits from ACCREDITED private schools. This has practical implications for homeschooling families, as we discuss at the end of this article.
Public schools generally accept credits from other public schools, although we can't find anything in the Education Code or the associated regulations that requires that; we believe they probably do so under a more nebulous "full faith and credit" concept that requires one state to respect proper governmental actions taken in other states, such as California respecting your marriage license from Connecticut. For instance, if you move to California from Alabama after your child has completed sixth grade there, the local public school usually accepts that placement, even if it feels the old school was not as good as the current school. In special situations, such as a prior school permitting acceleration for a gifted child, they might quibble, and, in the higher grades especially, there will be issues about whether prerequisites for various courses have been met by classes taken at other public schools, but for the most part the public schools give credit to their counterparts throughout the state and in other states. We believe this would mean that if a child is transferring into a regular "brick and mortar" public school from a public independent study program, either a district ISP or charter school, they should respect the placement used by, and give credit for work satisfactorily completed at, the independent study program. We can't, however, find any regulations that would require that.
Individual school districts are given wide latitude in assessing the appropriate placement of incoming students who are transferring other than from other public schools. While we believe that most public schools would respect placement decisions made by private schools they think are the same as or similar to public schools (think of the more rigorous "college prep" type private schools, or the large Catholic parochial school system), they are more likely to challenge work done at smaller schools about which they know nothing, including private family schools. The following is right from the California Department of Education website's FAQs:
QUESTION: I have been home schooling and would like to enroll my child in a private or public school. The schools in my area refuse to place my child in what I believe is the appropriate grade level and are not accepting the credits my child has earned through home schooling. May the schools refuse to accept credits earned through home schooling?
CDE ANSWER: There is no law requiring that "credits" granted by a parent who has been teaching his or her own child be accepted by public or private schools. Both private schools and public schools establish their own policies regarding the evaluation and placement of new enrollees. Both have discretion to make this determination on the basis of assessments such as "end-of-course" tests or other methods they deem suitable.
QUESTION: I am transferring my child from a private school to a public school. The public school will not give my child credit for all his or her courses. Is the public school permitted to refuse credits issued by the private schools?
CDE ANSWER: California law does not require public schools to accept credits from private schools. Public school districts have the responsibility to evaluate the appropriate placement for a student. The district may make this determination on the basis of assessments, such as "end-of-course" tests or other methods they deem suitable.
HSC's legal staff can find nothing in the Education Code that contradicts the CDE's position.
If you have advocated for a different placement for your child and your child has NOT been tested, ask if there is some way to use objective criteria for placing your child, such as a formal assessment or evaluation by a district teacher, informal taking of a STAR test, or whatever they might accept. Even if the school won't accept your private homeschool credits, perhaps your child's performance on an assessment test or impression upon an evaluating teacher will allow placement in an appropriate level. Of course, if your child has used courses from a third party provider that provides certificates of completion or even grades, you can give these to the school as proof that your child has mastered the subject and need not take it again.
This situation has very practical implications for families who currently educate their children outside the public system. We have heard of very few problems for families that are moving their children into public elementary or early middle school grades at their regular age level. Where the problems start occurring is at the high school level. High schools believe that, when they grant a diploma, they are certifying that the student has completed certain work indicated on the transcript; since admission to the UC and CSU system hinges so much on having certain accredited courses completed, we can understand the source of this concern. We think they are reluctant to give credit to work done outside the public or larger private system because they aren't willing to certify that the work was done if they know nothing about the courses.
If you think that your child might want to go to public high school, or if you foresee yourself wanting them or needing them to get a public high school diploma, you would be well advised to have your child enter the public system before high school starts, and preferably no later than the beginning of eighth grade, so that they can complete courses that would satisfy prerequisites for high school classes. We have heard, anecdotally, that a number of public high schools are "sick of homeschoolers coming to us when their kids are starting senior year and asking us to admit them as seniors and issue them diplomas as a blessing, validation, or last ditch attempt to correct the work they did outside the system."
The Legality of Homeschooling Using the Private School Option (Ed. Code § 48222)by Linda J. Conrad, Esq. (updated May 25, 2003)
*If You provide this legal brief to anyone, please give it in it's complete form.
In California, families can legally homeschool their children by establishing a private school in their home and complying with the private school requirements of the California Education Code. Parents who have established and enrolled their children in a home-based private school cannot be prosecuted for truancy.
48200. Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years not exempted under the provisions of this chapter or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) is subject to compulsory full-time education. Each person subject to compulsory full time education and each person subject to compulsory continuation education not exempted under the provisions of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) shall attend the public full-time day school or continuation school or classes and for the full time designated as the length of the schoolday by the governing board of the school district in which the residency of either the parent or legal guardian is located and each parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of the pupil shall send the pupil to the public full-time day school or continuation school or classes and for the full time designated as the length of the schoolday by the governing board of the school district in which the residence of either the parent or legal guardian is located. Unless otherwise provided for in this code, a pupil shall not be enrolled for less than the minimum schoolday established by law.
48010. (a) A child shall be admitted to the first grade of an elementary school during the first month of a school year if the child will have his or her sixth birthday on or before one of the following dates: (1) December 2 of the 2011-12 school year. (2) November 1 of the 2012-13 school year. (3) October 1 of the 2013-14 school year. (4) September 1 of the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter. (b) For good cause, the governing board of a school district may permit a child of proper age to be admitted to a class after the first school month of the school term.
48224. Children not attending a private, full-time, day school and who are being instructed in study and recitation for at least three hours a day for 175 days each calendar year by a private tutor or other person in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state and in the English language shall be exempted. The tutor or other person shall hold a valid state credential for the grade taught. The instruction shall be offered between the hours of 8 o'clock a.m. and 4 o'clock p.m.
48222. Children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall be exempted. Such school shall, except under the circumstances described in Section 30, be taught in the English language and shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state. The attendance of the pupils shall be kept by private school authorities in a register, and the record of attendance shall indicate clearly every absence of the pupil from school for a half day or more during each day that school is maintained during the year. Exemptions under this section shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.
33190. Every person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation offering or conducting private school instruction on the elementary or high school level shall between the first and 15th day of October of each year, commencing on October 1, 1967, file with the Superintendent of Public Instruction an affidavit or statement, under penalty of perjury, by the owner or other head setting forth the following information for the current year: (a) All names, whether real or fictitious, of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation under which it has done and is doing business. (b) The address, including city and street, of every place of doing business of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation within the State of California. (c) The address, including city and street, of the location of the records of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation, and the name and address, including city and street, of the custodian of such records. (d) The names and addresses, including city and street, of the directors, if any, and principal officers of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation. (e) The school enrollment, by grades, number of teachers, coeducational or enrollment limited to boys or girls and boarding facilities. (f) That the following records are maintained at the address stated, and are true and accurate: (1) The records required to be kept by Section 48222. (2) The courses of study offered by the institution. (3) The names and addresses, including city and street, of its faculty, together with a record of the educational qualifications of each. (g) Criminal record summary information has been obtained pursuant to Section 44237. Whenever two or more private schools are under the effective control or supervision of a single administrative unit, such administrative unit may comply with the provisions of this section on behalf of each of the schools under its control or supervision by submitting one report. Filing pursuant to this section shall not be interpreted to mean, and it shall be unlawful for any school to expressly or impliedly represent by any means whatsoever, that the State of California, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, or any division or bureau of the department, or any accrediting agency has made any evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of the school or course unless this is an actual fact. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare and publish a list of private elementary and high schools to include the name and address of the school and the name of the school owner or administrator. 33191. (a) Commencing October 1, 1985, the affidavit or statement filed with the Superintendent of Public Instruction pursuant to Section 33190 shall, under penalty of perjury, include a statement manifesting compliance with the provisions of Section 44237. (b) In the case of any private school where the instructor also serves as the administrator of the school, the affidavit or statement shall be made available upon request to the parents or guardians of all pupils currently enrolled in the school and to any parent or guardian considering whether to enroll his or her child in the school.
48415. In the case of attendance upon private school, exemption from the requirements of attendance upon compulsory continuation education shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.
51210. The adopted course of study for grades 1 through 6 shall include instruction, beginning in grade 1 and continuing through grade 6, in the following areas of study:
(a) English, including knowledge of, and appreciation for literature and the language, as well as the skills of speaking, reading, listening, spelling, handwriting, and composition.
(b) Mathematics, including concepts, operational skills, and problem solving.
(c) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; the development of the American economic system including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; man's relations to his human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; contemporary issues; and the wise use of natural resources.
(d) Science, including the biological and physical aspects, with emphasis on the processes of experimental inquiry and on man's place in ecological systems.
(e) Fine arts, including instruction in the subjects of art and music, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(f) Health, including instruction in the principles and practices of individual, family, and community health.
(g) Physical education, with emphasis upon the physical activities for the pupils that may be conducive to health and vigor of body and mind, for a total period of time of not less than 200 minutes each 10 school days, exclusive of recesses and the lunch period.
51220. The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall offer courses in the following areas of study:
(a) English, including knowledge of and appreciation for literature, language, and composition, and the skills of reading, listening, and speaking.
(b) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instructions shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; instruction in our American legal system, the operation of the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and the rights and duties of citizens under the criminal and civil law and the State and Federal Constitutions; the development of the American economic system, including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; the relations of persons to their human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust, and contemporary issues.
(c) Foreign language or languages, beginning not later than grade 7, designed to develop a facility for understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the particular language.
(d) Physical education, with emphasis given to physical activities that are conducive to health and to vigor of body and mind.
(e) Science, including the physical and biological aspects, with emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation and on the place of humans in ecological systems, and with appropriate applications of the interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.
(f) Mathematics, including instruction designed to develop mathematical understandings, operational skills, and insight into problem-solving procedures.
(g) Fine arts, including art, music, or drama, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(h) Applied arts, including instruction in the areas of consumer and homemaking education, industrial arts, general business education, or general agriculture.
(i) Vocational-technical education designed and conducted for the purpose of preparing youth for gainful employment in the occupations and in the numbers that are appropriate to the personnel needs of the state and the community served and relevant to the career desires and needs of the pupils.
(j) Automobile driver education, designed to develop a knowledge of the provisions of the Vehicle Code and other laws of this state relating to the operation of motor vehicles, a proper acceptance of personal responsibility in traffic, a true appreciation of the causes, seriousness and consequences of traffic accidents, and to develop the knowledge and attitudes necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles. A course in automobile driver education shall include education in the safe operation of motorcycles.
(k) Other studies as may be prescribed by the governing board.
(a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) The family is our most fundamental social institution and the means by which we care for, prepare, and train our children to be productive members of society.
(2) Social research shows increasingly that the disintegration of the family is a major cause of increased welfare enrollment, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and criminal activity.
(3) The lack of knowledge of parenting skills and the lack of adequate preparation to assume parental responsibilities are not only major causes of family disintegration, but also contribute substantially to the disastrous consequences of teen pregnancy.
(4) Because the state government bears much of the economic and social burden associated with the disintegration of the family in California, the state has a legitimate and vital interest in adequately preparing its residents for parenthood.
(b) The Legislature recognizes that the public education system is the most efficient and effective means to educate the populace on a large-scale basis,, and intends, therefore, to use the public education system to ensure that each California resident has an opportunity to acquire knowledge of parenting skills prior to becoming a parent. That knowledge should include, at a bare minimum, all of the following:
(1) Child development and growth.
(2) Effective parenting.
(3) Prevention of child abuse.
(5) Household finances and budgeting.
(6) Personal and family interaction and relations.
(7) Methods to promote self-esteem.
(8) Effective decision making skills.
(9) Family and individual health.
(c) Commencing with the 1995-96 fiscal year, the adopted course of study for grade 7 or 8 shall include the equivalent content of a one-semester course in parenting skills and education. All pupils entering grade 7 on or after July 1, 1995, shall be offered that course or its equivalent content during grade 7 or 8, or both. On or before January 1, 1995, the State Department of Education shall supply, to each school district that includes a grade 7 or 8, a sample curriculum suitable either for implementation as a stand-alone one-semester course or for incorporation within identified existing required or optional courses, with content designed to develop a knowledge of topics including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(1) Child growth and development.
(2) Parental responsibilities.
(3) Household budgeting.
(4) Child abuse and neglect issues.
(5) Personal hygiene.
(6) Maintaining healthy relationships.
(7) Teen parenting issues.
A district that implements the curriculum set forth in this subdivision in a stand-alone required course may exempt a pupil from the course if the pupil requests the exemption and satisfactorily demonstrates mastery of the course content. The district shall determine the method by which a pupil may demonstrate this mastery.
(d) Commencing with the 1993-94 fiscal year, community college districts may offer, to interested, individuals, noncredit fee-supported courses in parenting skills and education as described in subdivision (c).
(e) This section is not intended to replace existing courses that accomplish the intent of this section. School districts may meet the requirements of this section with existing courses of study offered in any of grades 6 to 9, inclusive, that includes the course contents identified in subdivision (c). When the parenting skills and education curriculum is incorporated within courses other than consumer and home economics courses, these courses are not subject to the curricular standards specified in Section 2 of Chapter 775 of the Statutes of 1989 or in the consumer and home economics education model performance standards and framework. Teachers of courses other than consumer and home economics that incorporate parenting skills and education are not required to meet the qualifications specified for teachers of consumer and home economics.
(f) This section shall become operative only if a funding source is identified by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the purposes of this section on or before January 1, 1995.
(g) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall identify the funding source for this section from existing resources or private resources, or both, that may be available for the purposes of this section. The superintendent shall notify school districts when sufficient funds have been identified and are allocated to cover all costs relating to the operation of this section.
51221. Instruction required by subdivision (b) of Section 51220 in the area of study of social sciences shall also provide a foundation for understanding the wise use of natural resources.
Under existing law, a person between the ages of 6 and 18 years who is not exempted is subject to compulsory education. Existing law excludes a child under 6 from compulsory education. This bill would extend compulsory education to children from 5 to 18 years old.
HSC Legislative Chair, Debbie Schwarzer, explains how AB2203 and AB1772 could potentially affect homeschoolers. Read Debbie's in-depth analysis.
This bill impacts those who waive some or all required immunizations by signing a personal beliefs statement. Beginning on July 1, 2013, the personal beliefs statement would need to be accompanied by a written statement signed by a health care practitioner stating that he/she has provided information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and of the communicable diseases. The parent would also be required to sign a written statement indicating that he/she received that information.
On August 8, 2008, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled that homeschooling is indeed a legal option in California. This was a reversal of a ruling in February of that year that parents must hold a teaching credential to homeschool their children, and confirmed HSC’s long-held interpretation of private school laws.
Open thank you letter to attorney Mark Parnes and the law firm (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) for successfully defending our right to homeschool.
The phrase “Independent Study Program” (ISP), when used by those in the private homeschool community, has applied to situations where one school files a single private school affidavit (PSA) for multiple homeschooling families whose children are enrolled in their school. Some programs characterized as ISPs are part of a private school campus-based school, some are operated as a business catering to homeschoolers, and others are composed entirely of homeschoolers. In almost all of these situations, the persons actually teaching the children enrolled in the school are the parents or guardians of the children, with varying degrees of assistance or supervision from the school.
The recent homeschooling case in Los Angeles has called into question the wisdom of using the ISP term. For reasons explained more fully below, the Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), California Home School Network (CHN), HomeSchool Association of California (HSC), Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and Private and Home Educators of California (part of FPM) are jointly making the following recommendations regarding the termination of the use of the term “independent study programs” in the future.
1. We are recommending that the private homeschool community at large, and the leaders of “private independent study programs” in particular, make a change from using the descriptive phrase “private school independent study program” (and its variants – e.g. “ISP”, “Private ISP”, etc.), and instead use the phrase “Private School Satellite Program” (PSP, with the second “S” purposely eliminated for simplicity). This will make it clear that these private homeschool programs, in which the students’ education is provided by or under the direction of their parents, are different from public school ISPs, in which there is an assigned credentialed teacher who directs the students’ education while the parents are teachers' aides.
If a school has the words “independent study program” as part of its name, we would recommend that the name be changed to eliminate that reference. We are not saying that schools offering this type of program need to incorporate the words “satellite program” as part of their official name, and we leave the selection of the new name to the schools. We do think, though, that it would be prudent to discontinue the use of the “ISP” term. We understand that this creates some hardship and inconvenience for some schools, and assure you that we are not making this recommendation lightly.
2. We also recommend that the administrator of each Private School Satellite Program (formerly ISP) include in their count of teachers on their annual private school affidavit at least one parent or guardian from each family in their Satellite Program (PSP), so that the number of reported teachers more correctly reflects the actual student-teacher ratio.
In concert with our recommendation #2 above, we want to remind every Private School Satellite Program administrator to continue to require “a record of educational qualification of each [teacher]” to be maintained at the address specified by the private school on the PSA (see Ed Code 33190(f)(3). The PSA does not ask for the names of teachers, and we do not recommend that any teacher names be given voluntarily.
This change in terminology DOES NOT affect parents who file an affidavit (PSA) for their own private school where they teach their own children, but will affect the remainder of homeschoolers in private school programs to varying degrees. Families who are enrolled in programs that we would now call PSPs do not need to do anything other than confirm with their schools that they are aware of these recommendations. If any school is not aware of them, please feel free to give them a copy of this message and ask them to contact one of the organizations listed above for further information if it is needed.
We are recommending this change because of certain developments in the homeschooling case pending before the California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. You may wonder why we feel action is needed even though a new, final decision has not yet been issued. In its brief prepared for the June rehearing, the California Department of Education (CDE) expressed their official position on homeschooling, which calls into question the wisdom of continuing to use the term “ISP” to describe multi-family homeschool programs. It’s the CDE’s position that the only valid “independent study” programs are those public school home study programs that comply with very specific statutory requirements as outlined in the Education Code. We believe they were confused by the ISP name; in order to eliminate that confusion, we’re making these recommendations. We would like to note, however, that they did concede that one family can legally operate a private school in their home.
We believe that the term “Private School Satellite Program” accurately describes the operation of a private school that files an affidavit and serves multiple families, whether it be a private campus-based school with a home study option, a school operated as a business exclusively serving homeschoolers, or a private school composed entirely of homeschool families. In each case, the enrolled family’s home is a satellite location of the private school with the parents or guardians operating as the teachers of the children in their homes. We evaluated many different possible terms, researched whether those terms are used in California state laws or the education laws of other states, and determined after lengthy debate that “Private School Satellite Program” both did a good job of describing the situation and avoided any confusion with terms already used in state statutes or regulations.
We know that you may have questions and you should feel free to contact us for further clarification.
One of the most effective ways to participate in making sure that homeschooling remains a legal option in Caifornia is for homeschoolers to visit their own legislators. We are told by people who have worked on legislative matters for a long time that legislators really like to have a face to associate with a cause. Giving your legislators a family to think of when they think about homeschooling will help when the time for a vote on homeschooling comes up.