For Immediate Release: As long as homeschooling takes place under the private school law, homeschools should be required to follow that law
Canton, Ma., 02/21/2018—Last week Assemblyman Jose Medina introduced Assembly Bill 2756, which would require homeschools in California to be inspected annually by the local fire department or the State Fire Marshal, in keeping with the requirements of the state’s private school law. “We applaud Assemblyman Medina for taking action to protect homeschooled children like those rescued from a Perris, California, ‘house of horrors’ last month,” said Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which advocates for homeschooled children. “This is a conversation lawmakers need to be having.”
In California, homeschooling takes place under the state’s private school law. The private school law requires annual fire inspections, but this requirement is typically not enforced for homeschools. The discovery of the thirteen starved, imprisoned children last month has lawmakers rethinking this exemption. “As long as parents in California homeschool under the state’s private school law, they should have to follow that law,” said Coleman. “Assemblyman Medina’s bill would ensure fairness, requiring families that teach their children at home under the state’s private school law to follow the same rules as any other private school.”
“It is our hope that Assemblyman Medina’s bill will open a larger conversation about homeschooling in California,” stated Coleman. “Both parents and children would be best served by the creation of a dedicated homeschool statute.” California’s private school law was not created with homeschooling in mind; efforts to apply requirements written for traditional private schools to homeschools are confusing to parents and district superintendents alike. Currently, parents face uncertainty when laws that weren’t designed for homeschooling are interpreted and enforced differently depending on the district where they live.
“A dedicated homeschool statue would cut through confusion and give lawmakers an opportunity to create a law that protects all children from the outset,” said Coleman.
Families homeschooling in California could avoid a potential fire inspection requirement by enrolling their children in a private school satellite program that allows them to homeschool without filing as an individual private school with the state. While some of these programs offer tutoring or classes, many of them exist only for paperwork purposes; in some cases, parents can enroll their children online, without ever having in-person contact with those operating the program. “Any effort to effectively support homeschooled children in California needs to create requirements for private school satellite programs,” said Coleman.
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.