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California blow to home schoolers

Publish date: 10 March 2008
Issue Number: 2025
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: General

A California Appeal Court has dealt a blow to parents who home school their children, saying in its ruling that only those with teaching credentials can educate their children at home.

Advocates for the families vowed to appeal against the decision to the state Supreme Court. Unlike at least 30 other states, home schooling is not specifically addressed in California law. Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor. California does little to enforce those provisions and insists it is the local school districts' responsibility. The Appellate Court ruling stems from a case involving parents Phillip and Mary Long, who were facing various allegations, including claims of physical abuse, involving some of their eight children, says the Los Angeles Times. A lawyer appointed to represent two of the Long's young children, who were home schooled, requested that the court require them to physically attend a public or private school where adults could monitor their well-being. A trial court disagreed, but the children's lawyer appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeal. The court found that since Mary Long did not have a teaching credential, the family was violating state laws. ‘Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,’ wrote Justice Walter Croskey in an opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. Full Los Angeles Times report

In another education case, a West Texas school district has agreed to change the curriculum for a high school course on the Bible to settle a lawsuit that said it amounted to religious indoctrination. The New York Times says the federal suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the People for the American Way Foundation on behalf of eight parents in the Odessa area. It argued that the course curriculum, adopted in 2005 by the Ector County Independent School District, promoted Protestant Christianity and a specific reading of the Bible as a literal historical document. Public schools can teach the Bible if done in a neutral way. It cannot be taught as it would be in a Sunday school class, legal scholars said. As part of the settlement, the district agreed to use a new curriculum developed by a committee of local educators. Full report in The New York Times