Home Schooling in California

A California appellate court agreed Wednesday to rehear arguments in a controversial case that called into question the legality of home schooling, court documents show.

A statewide uproar began when a panel with the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in last month that there is no constitutional right to home school children.

The ruling arose following an investigation into abuse inside a Los Angeles family that home schooled its children.

The court agreed to rehear the case based on a request from the father in the family at the center of the case. The father, identified only as Philip L., is represented by Ramona-based attorney Gary Kreep.

Kreep is allied with the Alliance Defense Fund, which announced on its Web site Wednesday the court’s decision to rehear the case. The Christian organization takes cases related to religious freedoms.

The court said it would look at two issues: whether there is a constitutional right to home school, and whether California law provides for instruction at home by parents who don’t have teaching credentials and are not affiliated with any public school program.

The court also said it would consider arguments from the state superintendent of education, the State Board of Education and the California Teachers Association.

The matter will be argued in June.



  1. #1 John Pieret
    March 27, 2008

    I hate to admit it but even I have to agree that is a perfect name for a lawyer.

  2. #2 Gray Gaffer
    March 28, 2008

    From the federal point of law, tings are pretty vague and left up to the states except they are required to mandate and regulate some minimum standard of education. Currently, home schooling requirements are decided at the state level (see http://www.hslda.org/laws/). There appear to be no Federal mandates about how children are schooled at all. However the states are Federally mandated to provide a minimum quality of schooling for all children, and hence there are minimum (apparently minimal too) teacher accreditation requirements in order to be able to teach in a state run school. Private schools not so much. They are more constrained by reputation. Home not mentioned at the Federal level at all, except as it is covered by the minimal standards requirement.

    So, basically, there is no Constitutional or Federal regulation that would override or dictate this decision. There is only the somewhat vague idea that all children deserve to be properly educated, whatever that means.

    It did not take excessive Googling to find the relevant CA Compulsory Education law. Basically, if the parents are doing the teaching, they are required to hold CA teaching credentials for the appropriate grade. This is a long url but:


    This is a section from the comprehensive CA Education list:


    which includes 2007 changes.

    This answers the second point: “The court said it would look at two issues: whether there is a constitutional right to home school, and whether California law provides for instruction at home by parents who don’t have teaching credentials and are not affiliated with any public school program.” A: it does not.

    I was led to this information from the CA Dept of Education web page, “Private Schools Frequently Asked Questions” section, question 11 “What is the compulsory education law?”:


    So either the parents were accredited or not. Apparently the mother failed to answer this question. The constitutionality question is moot since the requirements are left up to the states to define and enforce.

    Seems quite unambiguous to me.

  3. #3 Armchair Dissident
    March 28, 2008

    I don’t understand home-schooling in America. In the UK, all children are both entitled by law to an education until the age of 16, and required by law to attend appropriate schooling – and parents can be prosecuted for neglect if they fail to provide such a facility to their children (IANAL, etc, it’s more likely to be “prevent their children from attending”, or other such wording).

    Presumably similar laws exists in America? If it considered a child’s right to receive a sufficient standard of education, and it is a requirement that parent’s ensure such schooling is made available to their children, then how can it be possible for parent’s without sufficient teacher training to school their children? If the parent’s are preventing their children from receiving an adequate standard of education – ie, if they are not sufficiently qualified to teach them – then how is that not at the very least willful neglect?

  4. #4 Theo Bromine
    March 28, 2008

    Hey Armchair,

    Do you have any evidence that formal teaching qualifications for parents are either necessary or sufficient to ensure proper education of home-schooled children?

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 28, 2008

    I assume Arm will provide commentary related to the UK (who’s children are by and large much better educated then the US at certain ages). For the US, Theo, your question is a bit of a red herring. The home schooling community by and large is very quick to insist that home schooling is terrific, but even quicker to insist that any kind of real reasearch or data collection to measure this form of education should not happen. (By and large … the home schooling community is very diverse. But I have yet to encounter more than one or two people in that community who would ever assent to having a systematic study and evaluation done).

  6. #6 Theo Bromine
    March 29, 2008

    Well, I’m neither in the UK nor the US, but in Canada, where we usually fall somewhere between UK and US custom and practice.

    And I was one of those (apparently rare) homeschoolers who would have welcomed research, data collection and increased opportunities for my kids to demonstrate their proficiency against common standards. But I am still waiting for someone to explain what is the point of requiring formal teaching qualifications for homeschooling parents. Teaching qualifications are mainly about group pedagogy and classroom management. As an electrical engineer, I’m sure I could teach advanced math and physics to one or two high school kids, but jsut the thought of teaching addition and subtraction to 25 6-year-olds fills me with dread. On the other hand, my son’s (public school) grade 5 science teacher did not know just how long light took to get from the sun to the earth (but was sure it was much longer than the 8 minutes my son was suggesting)