A second petition has been launched in opposition to a California appeals court’s ruling that is being interpreted to ban homeschooling in the state, this one an appeal to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state legislature, who already have expressed concern over the court’s activism.

The new petition was announced by the Pacific Justice Institute, which earlier said it would be working on an appeal of the Los Angeles ruling on behalf of the school that was involved in the case by supervising the family’s independent study work.

PJI said its petition is being assembled at the website PetitionsToday.org to let state officials know of the disaster that could face homeschooling parents if nothing is changed.

This week WND reported on an announcement from Capitol Resource Institute that California Assemblyman Joel Anderson had introduced a resolution calling on the California Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision.

The proposal notes that homeschoolers in California now are now “responsible positions as parents, as students in and graduates of colleges and universities, in the workplace, and as citizens in society at large. …”

It also notes “the United States Supreme Court has ruled that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. …”

“On Feb. 28, 2008, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District in Los Angeles issued an opinion in the case of In Re: Rachel L. holding that homeschooling without a teaching credential is not legal… [and that] denies California parents’ primary responsibility and right to determine the best place and manner of their own children’s education,” the resolution says.

WND also reported when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted the ruling.

“This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts, and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education.”

California state Supt. of Public Instruction O’Connell also added his voice to those concerned about the ruling.

“The California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling,” he said. “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association earlier launched a petition seeking to have the legal opinion “de-published,” which is a process that would prevent it from being used as a widespread precedent for other homeschooling families.

Pacific Justice is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal.

The school issued a statement today that when the appeal is filed formally, the move will put the court’s ruling on a suspended status until the appeal process is finished.

“The family [in the case] faced juvenile court issues, which were resolved,” the school said, “the DCS case was closed, and the judge resolved the family could continue to homeschool. However, the children’s court appointed attorneys did not like the decision and appealed. … In the California Court of Appeals, SCS was never given an opportunity to represent itself and address who we are and how we function. Much of the information the court used to render this current decision was on incomplete and inaccurate information.”

The school said it would continue to serve its families, and besides the PJI effort, other groups apparently are working on a rehearing at the appellate level, a hearing at the state Supreme court, and filing for the depublishing.

“Are you confused?” the school asked. “Let’s look at the facts.” It said:

  • This ruling sets precedent and interprets the law for everyone in California in its current status. It is not a ruling just for the family involved.

  • At this moment, there is no provision in the California Constitution to allow parents a constitutional right to direct their children’s education.
  • California Educational statutes do not currently define homeschooling.
  • California homeschoolers have been educating their children under the current laws for the past 27+ years without any major conflict.
  • This ruling effects both private homeschoolers and public charter home school programs, distant learning and independent study programs.
  • Filing for an appeal (which SCS’s legal team, Pacific Justice, will be doing) puts in suspension the ruling until the appeal is denied or heard (possible 4 months to 5 years). During this time no homeschool family will be challenged in a court of law with this ruling.

It is creating panic among homeschoolers because if left unchanged, it soon could be cited against other families, the school said.

“Don’t panic,” the school said. “Help those who feel distraught and afraid, to be at peace and have faith for a favorable outcome. While we are appealing this ruling, it won’t be used in court against homeschoolers. Continue to homeschool effectively, caring about your family, children, their growth and development and their academic instruction,” the school said.

Pacific Justice chief Brad Dacus promised, “I will leave no stone unturned in an effort to reverse this heinous attack on parental rights, and that includes asking for your swift and immediate help.”

He said the petition allows thousands of people to join together in a voice to the government.

“The scope of the February 28 decision by the appellate court is stunning in its disregard for your Constitutional rights. Under the ruling, issued by Justice H. Walter Croskey and two other members of the appellate panel, parents like you could be subject to criminal sanctions, which could include the paying of fines and the completion of state-mandated parent education classes and counseling programs.

“But the potential threat is much worse! If this decision is upheld, the way will be paved for the courts to remove children from the homes of non-compliant parents on the grounds of ‘educational neglect,'” he said.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, said the ruling was disturbing.

“The ruling is so alarming because the state appeals court judges actually wrote that ‘parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.’ The judges said that parents without teaching credentials cannot teach. This ruling is a radical slam against homeschooling,” his organization said.

However, Thomasson also said parents should not do anything extreme.

“Despite this intolerant, anti-parent ruling, California homeschoolers must not panic.… California homeschooling families should continue homeschooling, and parents who are considering homeschooling as a way to exit the immoral government school system should continue with their plans,” he said.

The family in the case, Phillip and Mary Long, previously told WND they were reviewing their options for an appeal themselves but had not confirmed specifics yet.

There are an estimated 166,000 children in formalized homeschool situations in California, but Dacus estimated there are others “under the radar” that would be several times that number.

The Longs previously told WND of their concerns with the public school district’s advocacy for alternative sexual lifestyles and promotion of the theory of evolution.

“The parent-child relationship existed long before any government and makes it the responsibility of the parent to educate the child,” Phillip Long told California reporters.

He said the responsibility includes protecting children from things that are hazardous “emotionally” as well as physically.

WND broke the story of the ruling, which reversed a decision from Superior Court Judge Stephen Marpet, who said “parents have a constitutional right to school their children in their own home.”

As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.

But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation
was a “ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent.”





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