California Home School

On February 2008 the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles ruled that all children must be taught only by credentialed teachers. This ruling sent waves of fear through California's home schooling families. Home schooling is not specifically addressed in California law as it is in most other states. Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor.

Currently the California Department of Education allows home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as small private schools or hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts while still teaching at home.

California does little to enforce those provisions and insists it is the local school districts' responsibility. Some parents home school their children without the knowledge of any entity. There was a public outcry over the appellate court ruling, which could affect an estimated 166,000 California children who are home-schooled.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state superintendent have spoken out against the ruling which means that chances are, even if the case is held up in the California Supreme Court, uncredentialed parents will still be allowed to educate their children. There is nothing that requires the state to aggressively go after people.

The ruling came about because of a family court case involving Phillip and Mary Long, who were repeatedly reported to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for various allegations, including claims of physical abuse, involving some of their eight children.

All of the children had been enrolled in Sunland Christian School, where they would occasionally take tests, but were educated in their home by their mother. Eventually a family court judge terminated its jurisdiction over children of Phillip and Mary Long. Home school advocates say the decision makes the appellate discussions moot. The issue remains in legal limbo.


It is now official, home schooling in California is legal. The ruling said that California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education and that the statutory permission to home school may constitutionally be overridden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared a dependent. This was a huge victory for California Home School parents.