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California Court Reverses Itself, Declares Home Schooling Legal

Adelle M. Banks | Religion News Service | Monday, August 11, 2008

California Court Reverses Itself, Declares Home Schooling Legal

August 12, 2008

A California court Friday (Aug. 8) reversed its previous ruling and decided that most forms of home schooling are legal.

Last February, the California Court of Appeal ruled in a juvenile court case that public school enrollment is generally required unless a child is tutored by a credentialed person or enrolled in a full-time private school.

In the new ruling, the court determined that while original education laws seemed to prohibit home schools in the definition of private school, later laws could be interpreted differently.

"The most logical interpretation of subsequent legislative enactments and regulatory provisions supports the conclusion that a home school can, in fact, fall within the private school exception to the general compulsory education law," the court concluded.

"We therefore conclude that home schools may constitute private schools."

But the court added that "an order requiring a dependent child to attend school outside the home in order to protect that child's safety" is constitutional.

The case, which involved a family that home-schooled their children and had them tested occasionally at Sunland Christian School in Sylmar, Calif., drew the attention of home-school advocates including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.

"This is a tremendous victory for thousands of home-schooling families in California," said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which represented the Christian school.

"The pall of uncertainty that has hung over so many families for the last few months is gone."

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