A California court order that essentially banned homeschooling in the state has been vacated, and the judges who issued the ruling will hear further arguments on the status of parents who want to teach their own children.
WND broke the story in February of an appeals court order in Los Angeles against the family of Phillip and Mary Long.
The Longs say they have homeschooled because of an anti-Christian bias in public schools. The ruling stemmed from a juvenile proceeding that already had been closed by the court when court-appointed attorneys for their children appealed in an attempt to ban homeschooling. The ruling from Appeals Court Judge H. Walt Croskey granted the attorneys’ 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.'”
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.”
The decision sent shock waves through the homeschooling community across the nation, and a variety of groups jumped into action, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, which worked with other groups on a petition for rehearing before the same court.
The petition was submitted by Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation to the 2nd Appellate District Division on behalf of the Longs.
In an announcement today, the HSLDA said the petition had been granted.
“The California Court of Appeal granted a motion for rehearing in the In re Rachel L. case – the controversial decision which purported to ban all homeschooling in that state unless the parents held a teaching license qualifying them to teach in public schools,” the HSLDA said in a statement.
“The automatic effect of granting this motion is that the prior opinion is vacated and is no longer binding on any one, including the parties in the case,” HSLDA said.
“The Court of Appeal has solicited a number of public school establishment organizations to submit amicus briefs including the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and three California teacher unions. The court also granted permission to Sunland Christian School to file an amicus brief. The order also indicates that it will consider amicus applications from other groups,” HSLDA said.
“Home School Legal Defense Association will seek permission to file such an amicus brief and will coordinate efforts with a number of organizations interest[ed] in filing briefs to support the right of parents to homeschool their children in California,” the group said.
“This is a great first step,” noted Michael Farris, chairman of HSLDA. “We are very glad that this case will be reheard and that this opinion has been vacated, but there is no guarantee as to what the ultimate outcome will be. This case remains our top priority.”
A long list of homeschool groups working in the state previously released a statement on the issue that could affect 200,000 students. Joining were the California Homeschool Network, Christian Home Educators Association of California, Private and Home Educators of California and HomeSchool Association of California.
“We are united in the goal of protecting the right of parents to teach their children private at home without additional governmental interference,” the statement said. “We believe that children deserve to learn in the environment that best meets their individual needs. We support the right of parents to direct their children’s education including, if they desire, teaching their children privately at home apart from any public school program and without a teaching credential.”
The groups also described the appeals court ruling as “excessively broad” and concluded the previously interpretation of state law, under which parents are allowed to set up a private school and teach their own children in their own homes, is accurate.
The HSLDA had sought to have the court “de-publish” the opinion, which also would limited its impact. But the ruling has attracted some attention from the highest levels.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president has supported homeschoolers in the past.
“I’m sure it [the ruling] will probably be appealed, and then we’ll see how it goes from there,” she said.
Among the other responses have been:
- Assemblyman Joel Anderson has proposed a resolution in the California Legislature 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.”
- A separate petition appeals to Schwarzenegger and the Legislature is being run by the Pacific Justice Institute, which is working with the website PetitionsToday.org.
- And 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.
“The court cannot ‘make’ something illegal – that’s the legislature’s job. Sheesh!” wrote Jon Chi Lou, of Heritage Christian High School.
And Hye-Sung F. Gehring added, “This is ridiculous. California is retarded. Always has been.”
The HSLDA also is suggesting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically recognizing parental rights. That effort already is under way under the banner of Parental Rights.
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.