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News in the News

Posted by Annie on Mar 7, 2008 in Legal

Homeschooling is legal and everyone now knows it.

Homeschooling is legal and everyone now knows it!

Have you been following all the online commotion? All this exposure is good, good, good — for homeschooling in California. If you are currently homeschooling in California, it might surprise you to know that as a homeschooling contact and editor of LocalHS, I am often asked if homeschooling is legal.

It always surprises me and I feel like saying, get with it man, where have you been? Living under a rock? But of course, I explain the law to them and move on to the important stuff. The upside to the court ruling that has phones ringing off the hook and fingers flying, is good news because those who weren’t aware of the legality of homeschool are getting an education now and much of the news has been positive.

Some of these articles really crack me up. Just this morning an AP article had to this to say:

The immediate impact of the ruling was not clear. Attorneys for the state Department of Education were reviewing the ruling, and home schooling organizations were lining up against it.

Totally funny! The Department of Education is reviewing the ruling. Oh yeah, and what exactly are they going to do? Start a war? You don’t fire up homeschoolers by calling it illegal, then drag in homeschoolers and charge them with a crime. Come on – whom are they trying to kid?

The CDE has backed down to homeschoolers time and time again over the years. Several years ago some of us caught the CDE telling bold faced lies on their website. The truth is homeschoolers in this state have been well-educated as to their rights as parents and as homeschoolers. We have enough lawyers available to us to drag this issue through the courts until most of our children are in college.

Kristin Chapman of World Mag reported that:

Legal experts say the ruling is a long time coming, given that home schooling is virtually unregulated in California…

Martin said school districts and social workers have been reluctant to scrutinize suspect home schools for fear of lawsuits. The ruling, he expects, will make it easier for them to monitor parents who have neglected or under-educated children through home schooling.

I just love that word "monitor." They can’t even "monitor" their own teachers. Have you read the news lately? Teachers are constantly being busted for something, schools are misappropriating funds and there is no way most homeschoolers are going to give up our right to tend to our own children, much less allow anyone to "monitor" us.

Speaking as someone who has lived around the country — we always check out the homeschooling laws in the state before we consider a move. States like Michigan and Texas have no regulation. All hell hasn’t broken out there yet. I think the schools should be minding their own business and let us mind ours.

Which brings me to the teacher layoffs. Just how many new students do you think these schools can readily handle — in addition to their current students? The governor has cut back school funding, pink slips are being sent out to teachers across the state next month and yet, they think they are going to force our children into already overcrowded classrooms?

I don’t think so…

This is an election year and I’m guessing legislators aren’t going to want to alienate a huge voting block either. Remember the last time homeschoolers got riled up and shut down the switch board at the White House?

If you ask my opinion (well you didn’t, but I’m going to give it anyway), the courts will do their best to defuse this situation the best way they can. While it’s not easy to get an opinion depublished that is their safest course of action.

~Annette signing off – for now.

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No Place To Go

Posted by Annie on Mar 4, 2008 in Legal

Runaway Teens Request For Assistance Triggers Investigation

No Place To Go!

On October 29, 2005 the Long’s then 14-year-old daughter ran away from home. Her reasons are shared by many a headstrong teenager who resents the authority of a parent. When she found herself with no place to go, she took it upon herself to contact child welfare workers, in order to secure a place to stay.

Her actions triggered yet another investigation. (This was not the Long families first involvement with CPS caseworkers.) Attorneys were assigned to represent each parent and the two youngest minor children – provided for at state expense. The subsequent court battle resulted in a finding for the parents, who not only kept their children in the home but the lower court had no issue with the children being homeschooled.

Attorney Lori A. Fields, representing the two minor children took issue with the court ruling and decided that homeschooling did not provide an appropriate education for Jonathan and Mary Grace. Fields appealed the ruling to the Second Appellate Court.

It was around this time that Jonathan, wishing to continue homeschooling, requested his attorney be dismissed and replaced. The court refused to honor his request and continued the hearing, without holding the required Marsden hearing. The court reasoned that the attorney, which was provided by the court was charged with acting in the children’s best interest – not necessarily to work on the children’s behalf, according to his wishes.

The court ultimately ruled that they had indeed erred in failing to hold a Marsden hearing but contended that the Marsden hearing was irrelevant and therefore had no bearing on the case and subsequent ruling.

Had the minor children been adults, with the funds to hire an attorney to represent them, the attorney would have been hired with the clear understanding that they were to represent them and their wishes (or face being fired). Should the minor children have less right to representation because a court appointed attorney was assigned to their case?

This is an issue I hope will be addressed by the legal minds that take on this enormous challenge.

My phone has been ringing off the hook today. Terry Nevens of CHELD and I had a very long conversation today regarding the case. He is working with the Long Family, putting together their strategy, just as homeschooling organizations around the state are sinking their teeth into the case. Stay tuned for more discussion of the Long case. There are many more avenues of this case to explore. Now if I only had more time.

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CA Legal Drama

Posted by Annie on Mar 3, 2008 in Legal

Did a California Appellate Court Render Homeschooling Illegal in California?

No Place To Go!

For a lot of people who claim not to put much stock in articles published by World Net Daily, their current article, "Judge orders homeschoolers into government education," sure has made the rounds and is being discussed not only on California lists but on lists as far away as Tennessee and people from the Netherlands.

In his article, Bob Unruh reports, "A California court has ruled that several children in one homeschool must be enrolled in a public school or "legally qualified" private school, and must attend, sending ripples of shock into the nation’s homeschooling advocates as the family reviews its options for appeal."

California Legal Drama -- Judge orders homeschoolers into government education

When a California Homeschool Network list member queried if now was the time to begin to panic. Karen Taylor’s response was, "If I (as CHN’s legal chair) or Loren Mavromati (as CHN’s president) tell you the sky is falling, start to worry then. Until that time, please remember this is a list with lots of independent opinions and a lot of people are thinking "what if" right now and wanting to talk about it."

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that parents homeschooling in California are asking all the right questions and no one is providing any answers. The silence on this topic speaks volumes.

When I first read the story, I added it to Education in the News and was prepared to let it run its course: no big deal. After reading the court documents, it was apparent to me that if this appellate court decision was allowed to stand on it’s face, it won’t only affect California homeschoolers, or rather those who homeschool independently under California private school laws, it will also render California Charter School’s illegal, the very ones that are being paid for by our tax dollars.

Rumor has it that a super power California legal teleconference is taking place today, in which all the major California based homeschooling organizations are to map out a strategic response. Those players involved in this high stakes legal game are California Homeschool Network (CHN), Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), Family Protection Ministries, HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) and last, but not least, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

My curiosity got the best of me and rather than wait for an official statement by these various organizations, I decided to go straight to the horses mouth and called Mr. & Mrs. Long to see just exactly what was going on. Phillip said I was the first person to call him regarding his case. He had not heard from any of the state or national homeschool organizations.

What I learned after speaking with Mr. Long and reading through miles of documents was that this case is anything but straightforward. Each parent and the children were supplied with court appointed attorneys, who it is obvious by the court records had a superficial knowledge of homeschool (read private school) laws in the state of California.

In the coming days I will be covering certain aspects of the appellate courts ruling and what it means for the future of homeschoolers living in California. Phillip Long is acutely aware of the situation we are facing and had this to say, "This isn’t really about us, it’s about homeschooling. We’re not happy about it, but it’s much bigger than us."

Having worked in the past with California Homeschool Network’s legal team and in turn with the other homeschooling organizations, I can assure you there are some great legal minds at work on this and I am confident that this matter will be handled expeditiously and the appellate court taken to task over this error of judgment.

For Additional Information

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