A California appeals court that issued a ruling banning homeschooling in the state failed to recognize existing state law, according to a lawyer who filed court documents today.
The petition for rehearing before the state’s 2nd Appellate District Division Three court in the case involving the family of Phillip and Mary Long was filed by Gary Kreep, of the United States Justice Foundation.
The appeals court earlier concluded that there is no provision in California law for parents who want to teach their own children at home, but the petition notes that is supported numerous places in existing California law already.
The opinion, delivered just two weeks ago, has generated a shockwave through homeschooling circles in the United States. Just a day earlier, WND reported that Michael Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said he had met with several members of Congress, and they expressed “a lot of concern and outrage” over the issue.
He said although plans still were being developed, it was possible members of Congress could seek to intervene in the case.
The California case stemmed from the family’s juvenile proceeding. That case already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed specifically trying to have homeschooling banned, and the ruling from Appeals Court Judge H. Walt Croskey granted their wishes.
The court ruling said: “We find no reason to strike down the Legislature’s evaluation of what constitutes an adequate education scheme sufficient to promote the ‘general diffusion of knowledge and intelligence … We agree … ‘the educational program of the State of California was designed to promote the general welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the personal ideas of any individual in the field of education.'”
Those words echoed the ideas of officials from Germany, where homeschooling has been outlawed since 1938 under a law adopted when Adolf Hitler decided he wanted the state, and no one else, to control the minds of the nation’s youth.
Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has said “school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.”
The appeals ruling said California law requires “persons between the ages of six and 18” to be in school, “the public full-time day school,” with exemptions being allowed for those in a “private full-time day school” or those “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught.”
Nor did the family’s religious beliefs matter to the court.
Their “sincerely held religious beliefs” are “not the quality of evidence that permits us to say that application of California’s compulsory public school education law to them violates their First Amendment rights,” the court said.
In his petition for rehearing, however, Kreep said he suggested the appellate decision had not recognized a number of references in California law addressing parents who want to teach their children at home.
And he said the opinion relied on precedents that have since been rejected in newer court rulings.
The USJF specifically is appealing on behalf of the father, since the mother still was represented by court-appoint lawyers, officials said.
The law firm said a review of all pertinent statutes supports the idea of parents homeschooling their children.
Farris said one logical solution would be an amendment to the U.S. Constitutional specifically recognizing parental rights. That effort already is under way under the banner of Parental Rights.
The website notes the campaign exists “to secure a constitutional amendment that defends the rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. … We believe that no government, regardless of how well-intentioned it might be, can replace the love and nurture of a parent in the life of a child.”
Spokesman Allan Carlson of the The World Congress of Families told WND earlier if California’s ban would be allowed to stand, the state would be on par with Germany and Brazil, two other governments that ban homeschooling.
In significant developments already.
- Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the state Legislature in California that calls for the Croskey ruling to be overturned.
- Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights, then, as elected officials, we will.”
- California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state.”
- The HSLDA said it would coordinate 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.
- Another petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the state legislature and is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
- Yet another petition also is under way, at the ReverseTheRuling.com website. That organization offers information for homeschoolers who want to follow the California case, because of that state’s influence throughout the nation. It was assembled by the organization Learning By Grace, an outreach dedicated to providing parents with innovative online Christian homeschool materials.
“We have seen God’s hand of protection on the homeschooling movement for the 25 years we have been working together for this cause. There is no reason to begin to doubt God now,” Farris said.
Pacific Justice also is representing Sunland Christian School, which has been working with the family’s children in a study program, on an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“Don’t panic,” the school said in a statement. “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.
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.
Croskey’s ruling 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.”
The Private and Home Educators of California organization is posting a list of updates on the situation, and also a legal fact sheet for those who want to homeschool in California.