The Homeschooling Court Victory for Parents in California - Can Parents Rest Easy?

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The author examines the recent homeschooling court victory for parents in California. While he concludes that parents of homeschooled children can rest easy for now, he also warns there may be further court rulings and regulations to come in the future.

As California’s financial debt, overcrowding and budget cuts eat away at the quality of education being given to students in California, and as the number of families grow who feel they can give their children a better education than is given in public schools, and without the influence of bullies and other disruptive elements in their children’s lives, there is now a significant number
of children being homeschooled in California. California education lawyers and education attorneys throughout the State of California have been aware of this large segment for some time now in California.

Therefore, when in February 2008, a California court ruled that unless one of the parents of a homeschooled child had a credentialed teaching degree, their children being taught at home were truant, it shocked the families of these homeschooled children.

This ruling was thought to affect 200,000 kids in the State of California. Protests were raised from parents of these children to the Governor of the State.

On rehearing, the same judges made an equally stunning reversal of their opinion. Judge H. Walter Croskey, of the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles wrote that so long as parents declare their home to be a private school, they can continue to homeschool their children, even without credentials.

Parents, especially Christian parents of homeschool children and homeschooling associations hailed the decision. Governor Schwarzenegger perhaps naively expressed his hope that this might settle the issue once and for all.

However, in his decision on the issue, Judge Croskey noted that while California impliedly allows parents to homeschool, California currently has no enforcement mechanism. He said, given the State’s compelling interest in educating its children, and the absence of an express statutory and regulatory framework for homeschooling in California, additional clarity would be helpful.

Parents of homeschooled children should realize that Judge Croskey’s opinion is an invitation to legislators to create statutes and regulations in this area as well as a mechanism to enforce the rules they set for homeschooling.

As a lawyer who must constantly read new laws, parents should know too that wherever there are legislators, they are busy creating new regulations.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s hope notwithstanding, the court’s ruling did anything but abdicate the right to make further rulings. After first holding against homeschooling and then completely reversing course and admitting that it did so simply on an implied allowance by the State to allow it, the next court to review the subject could very well rule completely differently.

For the moment, however, parents teaching their children at home can breathe a sigh of relief. How long that relaxed atmosphere will last, however, will yet be up to the courts and the state legislature.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: R. Sebastian Gibson
Sebastian Gibson graduated cum laude at UCLA in 1972 and received law degrees in the U.S. and the U.K., graduating with an LL.B. magna cum laude from University College, Cardiff in Wales and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Mr. Gibson began his legal career in San Diego before practicing for years in London, England. Today, he has offices in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, Newport Beach, and the firm’s Of Counsel office is in Carlsbad, San Diego.

Mr. Gibson’s firm practices law in a wide variety of areas of law including education law throughout Southern California from San Diego, Orange County, Irvine, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, La Jolla, Temecula, Buena Park, Riverside, San Bernardino, Indio, Chula Vista, Escondido, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Oxnard, San Luis Obispo, Indian Wells, Fullerton, Orange, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Newport Beach to Carlsbad.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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