A possible battle against home schooling in Tuolumne County is brewing.
Monday afternoon, the Tuolumne County School District Board of Education will discuss the school district´s role in providing affidavits to private school.
District Superintendent Dan White sent a letter August 15th to parents who operate their own private schools, stating that home schooling is not an “authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance.”
White states in the letter, that just because parents file a private school affidavit, it does not make them a private school. Therefore, White says, these parents are not complying with the law and have truant children. In another letter, he had stated that only parents with state teaching credentials could legally teach their children in a private school setting.
Attorney J. Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, says the letter, originally penned last month by California Superintendent of Public School Instruction Delaine Eastin and copied by White, is wrong.
Smith says the California Education Code expressly recognizes parent-operated private school as “a legal alternative to public schools.” He adds California Department of Education´s website contains misleading information about home schools and abtaining private school affidavits.
California is one of 12 states where home schoolers legally operate as private schools. Currently there are more than 14,000 home school families in California.
White´s letter of August 15th, states parents who home school their children “are not complying with the law” and therefore there is “no reason for them to file an affidavit.”
White also states in his letter, starting this fall, those filing private school affidavits must do so through their local school districts.
But, according to some local home school parents, the district office no longer issues them. Private school affidavits are only available via the Internet at the California Department of Education´s web site. The on-line affidavits were just made available on their web site August 27th. Private schools are required to file them between October 1 and the 15th each year.
According to her August 27 letter to state lawmakers, Easton is attempting to seek legislation to further regulate private school education.
White was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
He has recommended in his letter that home school parents contact the Tuolumne County School District to enroll their children in programs offered by the district, including alternative education programs and charter schools.
Smith says the California Education Code “clearly recognizes the legal authority of parents to teach their own children by complying with private-school statutes.”
The Tuolumne County Board of Education meets Monday, Sept. 9, at 4 p.m. at the County Schools Office, Room 217, on South Fairview Lane in Sonora.