Preparations for countering California decision:looking good for homeschoolers

California‘s buzz about a state court of appeals decision regarding the Long family has spread out across the country.

First of all, I want to mention the information provided from Debbie Schwarzer-Homeschool Association of California legal team co-chair.  Good news is this!  From Home Education Mag’s Networking list:

I am thrilled to announce that we have been offered help by two of the best law firms in the state (and country). The firms will be helping us on a pro bono basis. That means they will donate (very expensive) attorney time to help us figure out the best strategies for dealing with the court issues, and they will help us prepare and file the letters and briefs that we need.

Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, will be representing HSC. They had helped HSC back in some of the dark days of Delaine Eastin’s time, and their thorough research helped us feel more comfortable that the advice we were giving the world about private homeschooling was correct. In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know that I worked there for many years, but they made the decision to go forward because they think the case presents interesting legal issues and they’d like to be on our side.

They will be working very closely with another firm, Baker & McKenzie, which has 150 offices around the world and, conveniently, one across the street from WSGR in Palo Alto. Jerry Salcido, who has been a member of the HSC legal team for several years, is an attorney at that office, and his firm has graciously agreed to donate their services as well. Because we couldn’t have two firms working for HSC, Baker and CHN have agreed that CHN will be their named client.

We believe that HSC and CHN’s interests in this case are very similar. We have similar membership profiles, we want the same results, we both think that help from professionals in dealing with the Supreme Court will be invaluable. The firms will consult with each other to make sure they are not duplicating efforts, but that they also aren’t leaving any important arguments out. They will also try to coordinate their efforts with the other groups with which HSC and CHN have been working, HSLDA, CHEA and Family Protection Ministries.

I am very excited by this development. I know we’re all a smart bunch of people, and maybe we could put these papers together ourselves, but experience here can make the difference. These firms have the experience. I hope you’ll continue to support what we are doing.

Debbie Schwarzer Co-chair HSC legal team

Again, from Debbie Schwarzer is this:

Appellate Court Case, Please Remain Calm
Suggestions for what to do and not to do.

Following that, Mary Nix interviewed D Schwarzer of HSC yesterday for a podcast on Closer Look:  Is it time for California homeschoolers to panic?  Thanks for being on top of this isue, Mary!

I have browsed through some messages from CA homeschoolers that call for calm and sitting on your hands, if need be. 

My understanding is that this Appeals Court consists of a Jerry Brown appointee (Klein) and two Guv Wilson appointees (Croskey and Kitching).  We can never pretend that there is too much difference between the 2 parties in what "limited government" really means.  One Democrat appointee and two Republican appointees made this decision.  The California Teacher Association’s is apparently gleeful at this ruling, as pointed out in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In the decision, (page 3), this court asserted this about the lower court’s decision:

The trial court’s reason for declining to order public or private schooling for their children was the belief that parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.  However, California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.
Thus, while the petition for extraordinary writ asserts that the trial court’s refusal to order attendance in a public or private school was an abuse of discretion, we find the refusal was actually an error of law. 

The above reference from the decision is that  parents are unable to homeschool lawfully because of lack of a constitutional right. (California Constitution, as pointed out by Deborah Stevenson of NHELD. )  This is amazing news to the great number of seemingly law abiding California homeschoolers.  As I read it, the petition was granted for that reason rather than for discretionary abuses asserted by the dependents’ lawyer (ie. lower court’s support of homeschooling or educational freedoms). 

 (page 4 in Background of Case):

The dependency court declined to make such an order [enrollment in public or private school] 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 previous court, as I read it, asserted the concern from the public school’s meaning of that S word.  Do we mean public school socialization or mingling out there in the real world? The court documentation here about this one particular family asserts the drumbeat of social/emotional conditioning that is broadcast far and wide. 

Debbie Schwarzer voiced her frustration in Mary’s interview in that Justice Croskey intentionally extended this decision past the Long family to the broader scheme of California homeschool legalities.  Croskey  (and his  other two peers) apparently had a larger agenda.  Her angst is conveyed in the Contra Costa Times article:

Parents may need license to home-school children

Home-school advocates blasted the Feb. 28 decision, written by Justice Walter Croskey of the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

"Instead of making a ruling that affected two children, he made a ruling that affects tens of thousands of children," said Debbie Schwarzer, a Los Altos attorney who home-schools her two children and is active in the Homeschool Association of California. "What the judge has done is send us back to the Dark Ages."

Goodness knows that there are those who would not allow homeschooling because it’s not feminist enough in their opinion.  I didn’t know school was a religion, but how many times I’ve heard: "I believe in the public school system".  

Here’s some more links.  

CA Legal Drama
Did a Appellate Court Render Homeschooling Illegal in California
California’s Annette Hall’s communications

Is Homeschooling Still Legal in California
’s Diane Flynn Keith’s thoughts

In re Rachel L." decision
California’s Ann Zeise Information

Bulletin #60 California Appellate Court Ruling 03/08/08
From National Home Education Legal Defense’s Deborah Stevenson

Thoughts from Principled Discovery
Questions regarding the legality of homeschooling in CA
Lawyers instructing lawyers on homeschooling in CA

Valerie at Home Ed Mag News & Commentary has several links to articles and news in the post and comments
California appeal court ruling to enroll children in school


Preparations for countering California decision:looking good for homeschoolers — 9 Comments

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  2. Thank you for all the information! Great resources and you do a nice job of pulling together things from different places.

  3. “…I didn’t know school was a religion, but how many times I’ve heard: “I believe in the public school system”.”

    Ha! Someone said that to me once. They didn’t get it when I told them, “Really. I’m an Episcopalian.”

  4. Larry, a few questions…
    What made you determine that homeschooling is illegal in CA?
    Not that it’s particularly important, but what data do you have that most homeschoolers are Christian?
    How have you determined that all Christians do is fearmonger?
    I did look at the video. I’ve not seen this video before or heard of this group and I try to act like a Christian. Imagine! I will say I think legislation to try and make people or kids nice seems pretty pointless. You can’t legislate politeness or respect.

    If that’s the best example you have that CA homeschooling should be illegal…in pulling up an obscure CA group, you’ll need to dig deeper maybe?

    Hopefully you’re not cutting and running on this blog, as I would like to see your answers.

  5. Renae and Dana, I had a lot of links that were going nowhere even after I thought I had it. I only hoped it made sense. I was and am a little wary about trekking into another state’s regs or legal schmegal stuff too deep.

    LOTP, I had a conversation with one person who worked for the school and was very religious (Christian 🙂 ) She said their church had a big division about homeschooling because a lot of the members homeschooled and it offended some of the others who didn’t. (Some of those others also worked for the school…it’s our biggest employer now in the town, I believe.) Anyway, she told me she supported homeschooling, but she believed in the public school.

    It’s all very strange, isn’t it?

  6. Great post and I wanted to add two things:

    1. Larry made the exact same comment on my blog here:

    2. On my podcast tonight, Mike Donnelly of HSLDA will be on to discuss this issue. Here is a link to the podcast:

    You can call in and talk with him if you want. This is an important issue and needs to be corrected. Thanks again fro a great post.

  7. Thank you, Duane. I’ve been trying to listen to your podcast all morning in between kid stuff. I wish I’d caught it last night.