Criminalizing Home Schooling

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Court Deems Homeschooling a Criminal Offense

by Steven Greenhut by Steven Greenhut

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The Pacific Justice Institute in Sacramento sent along a statement about a disturbing California Court of Appeal decision finding that parents have no right to homeschool their children. Parents who do not send their kids to the school deemed appropriate by the state may face criminal charges and fines. Remember when former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin tried to criminalize homeschooling? Here we go again. It’s ironic, given how badly the government miseducates students, that officials are so determined to criminalize this basic freedom. This really shouldn’t shock anyone who realizes the degree to which government at all levels runs our lives.

Here’s the PJI statement:

Home Schooling Found Unlawful by California Court of Appeal

Los Angeles — In a stunning decision affecting thousands of families in California, the California Court of Appeal has issued an opinion finding no legal right to home school. “Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program,” wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey whose opinion was joined by the other two members of the appellate panel.

The opinion was issued February 28, 2008, in a case titled In re Rachel L, which reversed a Superior Court Judge, Stephen Marpet, who found that “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.” The parents of Rachel L. enrolled her in Sunland Christian School, a private home schooling program. In his opinion, Croskey, 75, described what he called the “ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.”

Despite this statement by the Court, it should be noted that Sunland Christian School has been in full compliance with the requirements of the law for more than twenty years. “We’ve never been given an opportunity to represent our case in the Court of Appeal,” said Terry Neven, the president of the school. “Consequently, we are excited that PJI will represent us before the California Supreme Court so that the rights of home schooling families are preserved,” he stated further. In a section titled “Consequences of Parental Denial of a Legal Education,” the Court said that “parents are subject to being ordered to enroll their children in an appropriate school or education program and provide proof of enrollment to the court, and willful failure to comply with such an order may be punished by a fine for civil contempt.” “The scope of this decision by the appellate court is breathtaking. It not only attacks traditional home schooling, but also calls into question home schooling through charter schools and teaching children at home via independent study through public and private schools,” stated Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute “If not reversed, the parents of the more than 166,000 students currently receiving an education at home will be subject to criminal sanctions,” he continued.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register. He is the author of the book, Abuse of Power.

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