Assembly Bill 2756 has been referred to the Education Committee and to the Governmental Organization Committee. If you would like to contact them, please be sure to first become fully informed by reading HSC's complete statement.
On Friday, February 17, 2018, AB 2756 was introduced in the California Assembly by Assembly Members Medina, Eggman and Gonzalez Fletcher. We are currently in the processes of informing the homeschooling community about this bill. See below for HSC's full statement in the "Bills We've Been Watching" section.
The authors claim that the bill would protect children enrolled in home-based private schools by ensuring compliance with fire safety regulations. The bill would not accomplish that purpose, and must be seen for what it is: a bald grab for the power of the state to enter private homes.
The HSC Board and legal team believe this bill not only fails completely to achieve the stated goal, it imposes an unacceptable risk not only to the right to educate children at home, but also to the privacy rights of law-abiding citizens. We encourage all of our members to learn about the bill and about these risks, and to contact their own state Assembly members to voice their opposition.
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What the Bill Does
This bill would amend California Education Code Section 33190, the section that requires private schools to file annual affidavits with the California Department of Education, in several ways. First, it would require that the CDE compile lists of private schools with 6 or more students, and separate lists of private schools with 5 or fewer, and send them to the State Fire Marshal, who would then send the lists of small schools to the fire districts in which those schools were located.
It then amends the Health & Safety code sections on inspection of private schools to require inspection of all private schools that file affidavits. It does nothing to prevent the adoption of regulations for buildings subject to these inspections, including if the primary use of the building is as a private home and not as a school.
How the Bill Imperils Private Homeschooling
The Health & Safety code section being amended specifically references that fire inspectors look for compliance with applicable building codes. The state could easily adopt regulations that would basically make it impossible for private schools to operate in private homes. It is a common tactic by legislators to burden the ability to exercise a constitutionally protected right through indirect means. In many states, legislators opposed to abortion have succeeded in adopting regulations that impose the same building code requirements on abortion clinics as on hospitals. Of course, the clinics can't meet those, so they have to shut down, which was the intended purpose of the regulation. We do not wish to speak about abortion, but we have to fear that the same tactic will be used here. If this bill passes, we should expect future legislation specifying that all private schools, including schools operating in private homes, meet the same building codes as large traditional schools. They might require overhead sprinkler systems, 4 foot wide doors, or other requirements which would be virtually impossible to meet, so families would need to conduct education in buildings other than their homes. Obviously, if the bill were to pass, we would look for workarounds that would enable private home education to continue (joining private satellite programs, etc.).
How the Bill Imperils Privacy Rights
This bill would, for the first time, give the government the power to allow a government official to enter a private home without some reason to think that there is a situation in the home requiring their intervention. If there is reason to think that the house is on fire, or that occupants are in danger, or that a crime is being committed, yes, the state can and should be able to enter the home. Absent that, the state should not.
The bill also gives no guidance to the marshals about the scope of their inspection. Regulations give directions on how to inspect traditional schools, but nothing about how to inspect private homes. Homes rarely have "classrooms". Can they look in a bedroom? Some fire inspectors would do the minimum, such as ensuring that there are doors and windows, and would leave. Others may welcome the chance to go on a more extended inspection of a private dwelling, and that raises very serious privacy concerns.
The bill is also silent about whether the inspectors have any right to see, or interview, children that may be present in the home. Not only are fire marshals not trained in recognizing abuse, the possibility of such interviews without actual cause to suspect harm, and a warrant authorizing them to speak to children without the consent of the parents, is alarming and not legal.
The Bill Fails to Accomplish its Purpose
Our understanding is that the inspections would be by arrangement. If a family committing criminal abuse knows the inspectors are coming, it would be reasonable to expect them to clean up the house, send the children out, and hide all evidence of criminal conduct. The inspections would reveal nothing, and the bill would fail to accomplish its purpose.
The author's office stated that the goal of the bill is to "protect children". What evidence is there that children between the ages of 6 and 18 who are in private homes between 9 and 3 are at the greatest risk of being injured in a fire? What about children below the age of 6? What about children, including all traditionally-educated children, who are in private homes in the evening, when in fact most fires occur? The bill does nothing to guarantee the safety of the vast majority of children in the state, so it does not achieve the stated goal.
The bill would be ineffective at preventing future abuse by homeschooling parents because, if the laws are changed to allow intrusion into the home, those parents will probably not file affidavits. So the bill would burden law-abiding families while not doing anything to prevent a future Turpin case.
If this Bill Won't Prevent a Future Turpin Case, Would Some Other Bill Work?
We can think of no changes to education laws that would prevent a future case like this. The Turpin case is an extreme situation. It had nothing to do with homeschooling, and everything to do with the single-minded intent of the parents to hide and abuse their children.
There is no evidence to suggest that parents who educate their children at home are more likely to abuse their children than parents who send their children to traditional schools. The statistics we have seen suggest the opposite: that rates of abuse in the latter are much higher (including by the very people to whom we entrust our children). If that is true, why place this burden just on a small group of homeschooling families?
The key is to educate the public about what child abuse looks like, and give people confidential ways to say they're worried. From what we have read, this family took great pains to isolate themselves. We have not heard that they invited social contact with the neighbors, or went to church, or the doctor, or any other place where people might have become concerned. If the neighbors had known what to look for, and could make a report without fearing reprisal, maybe the alarm would have been raised.
If no one brings a potential abuse situation to the attention of those in the government who could take action, it cannot be prevented without giving the state the power to intrude in every home. That is completely unacceptable. We don't want to live in a society that allows that.
Don't Homeschooled Children Need Further Oversight?
This case has caused many to claim that homeschooling needs more oversight, more regulation. We believe that there is no evidence that homeschooled children in California are faring any worse, educationally, than other children. Studies that look for evidence of a link between a higher degree of regulation of homeschooling by the state and the outcomes of those children find no correlation. States such as New York and Pennsylvania, which require reviews of curriculum, or annual assessments, or minimal parental qualifications, do not produce students with better test scores, or better rates of admission to or performance at college, or evidence of greater functionality and civic engagement as adults.
While states have a compelling interest in ensuring that children are educated, and may adopt reasonable regulations to achieve that goal, if there is no evidence that the regulation promotes that objective, especially if it places burdens on fundamental interests of parents, such as the privacy interest in this case, then it is not reasonable, and would not withstand constitutional analysis.
Is This Bill Legal?
We think that the bill is illegal and unconstitutional, and we are certain that, if passed, there would be litigation to prevent its enforcement. Obviously it would be far better to keep it from passing in the first place.
Please speak up. We need our entire community to be engaged in protecting our freedoms as citizens. We will be publicizing opportunities to attend hearings or meet with legislators. If you hear anything that you think the board or legal team should know about, you are welcome to contact us.
AB318 is a California bill concerning teacher contact intervals for public school independent study programs and independent study charter schools. It is currently going through the Senate, having passed, with amendments, the Assembly.
This bill affects public independent study charter schools and district independent study programs. It does not affect private schools.
AB 318 would increase the required contact interval between students and teachers in independent study programs from every two weeks (for district independent study programs) or ever 20 instructional days (for other programs) to weekly in-person or visual contact. In addition, it would require schools and programs to include this as written policy.
Arguments for this bill include a hope that increased contact will reduce potential for familial abuse of children, as discussed in the Assembly abstract for the bill:
Arguments against it have been raised by APlus+, an organization for independent study charter schools. These arguments include clarity that charter schools do have regular contact with their students, that what constitutes "satisfactory educational progress" on weekly basis as discussed in the bill is undefined and may, but shouldn't, be left to an auditor and not the teacher, and that the bill unfairly increases the burden on families who live remotely.
This bill was heard by the Senate Education Committee on June 28, 2017, and after testimony for and against it, Senator Allen expressed concerns about district liability in the event a required meeting was not done in a way that blame could be placed on the teacher or school, and something bad happened to the child in that time. The bill was then held until the next meeting so that this, and possibly other things, could be clarified for a vote.
AB318 was voted on by the Senate Education committee and passed (4-2-1) on July 5, 2017, and passed (4-2-1), with an amendment to require live or visual contact every two weeks (from weekly in the original bill). It has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 713 is a duplicate of a previous bill (AB1444) which passed both the state Assembly and Senate and was vetoed by the governor. That bill was, itself, a duplicate of another previous bill (AB1772) which died in committee. The current bill was introduced by Assembly Member Weber, one of the co-authors of the previous bills.
Governor Brown vetoed a previous version of this same bill.
The bill was re-referred to the Senate appropriations committee in late August 2015 and is currently held under suspension. No action is currently expected.
This bill would require one year of kindergarten prior to entering 1st grade in public school. It does not change the compulsory education law and would not impact homeschooling options.
HSC attorney, Debbie Schwarzer, wrote the following analysis of AB 1772 which also applies directly to the identical AB713 (the current bill):
AB 1772 was introduced by Joan Buchanan (Contra Costa County) and her intent is crystal clear: no kindergarten, then no first grade.
Buchanan's bill leaves the compulsory school attendance age as 6-18, but adds a new section to the Education Code, Section 48001, that reads as follows: “48001. Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, a child shall complete one year of kindergarten before he or she may be admitted to the first grade.”
In addition, she would amend another Section of the Education Code, Section 48010, as follows:
“48010. (a) A child shall be admitted to the first grade of an elementary school during the first month of a school year if the child has completed one year of kindergarten and will have his or her sixth birthday on or before one of the following dates [with the existing language about cut-off birthdays left intact].”
There is no mistaking what this means: any six year old child whose parents are trying to enroll the child in first grade of a public school but who cannot produce acceptable proof that the child has completed a year of kindergarten would be REQUIRED to enroll the child in a kindergarten program, even if the child has mastered the kindergarten curriculum and is completely ready for first grade. It would not prohibit a private school from enrolling a child in first grade without completion of kindergarten and, to my reading, would not prohibit a child who had successfully completed first grade at a public or private school but who had not completed kindergarten from enrolling in second or higher grade. The bill does nothing to change the laws regarding kindergarten: it would cover the same curriculum, for the same length schoolday, as it presently does.
One obvious worry is whether the language of the bill grants to schools the right to judge the adequacy of the kindergarten program, but I think it does not. Buchanan's office was asked how this bill would affect children who had attended a private school kindergarten program or who were transferring in from other states and they replied that Section 48011 would continue to apply, which I interpret as follows.
The first sentence of Section 48011 says:
“A child who, consistent with Section 48000, has been admitted to the kindergarten maintained by a private or a public school in California or any other state, and who has completed one school year therein, shall be admitted to the first grade of an elementary school unless the parent or guardian of the child and the school district agree that the child may continue in kindergarten for not more than an additional school year.”
To me, this says that, if the child has completed a year of kindergarten in any public or (legal) private school in California or another state, the child must be admitted to first grade unless the parent and school agree that no more than one additional year of kindergarten would be beneficial. There are no words in that sentence implying that the school has any discretion to refuse entrance based on a personal judgment about the quality of the kindergarten program. So if the parent can show that the child did a year of kindergarten in any school, including a legal home-based private school, the child should be enrolled.
There is a question, though, about what happens to academically advanced children. Many very bright children are "asynchronous", meaning their cognitive development and their social and emotional development are not in sync (often with academic skills well beyond their age peers and emotional skills that are behind their age peers), and many such children are kept out of formal kindergarten, even though they are more than capable of the academic component, to allow their social and emotional skills to catch up.
So a curious situation arises. Section 48011, which is not being amended, currently allows a five year old child who is deemed ready by the school for first grade work to be admitted to first grade, without having attended a formal kindergarten program, with the parent's consent. The statute reads as follows:
“A child who has been lawfully admitted to a public school kindergarten or a private school kindergarten in California and who is judged by the administration of the school district, in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Education, to be ready for first-grade work may be admitted to the first grade at the discretion of the school administration of the district and with the consent of the child's parent or guardian if the child is at least five years of age. When a child has been legally enrolled in a public school of another district within or out of the state, he or she may be admitted to school and placed in the grade of enrollment in the district of former attendance, at the discretion of the school administration of the district entered.”
Again, this is at the discretion of the school; children who are academically advanced may skip kindergarten if everyone agrees. Buchanan's bill does not make attendance at school compulsory for five year olds, and by leaving 48011 intact, they appear to be conceding that in certain cases a child should not be required to attend kindergarten but rather go straight to first grade (although Section 48001 should be amended to make this explicit).
But nothing is said about the child seeking to enroll in school for the first time at first grade (with or without having attended a year of kindergarten) who, by age six, has mastered the kindergarten curriculum and perhaps even that of first grade. If the child had first enrolled in school at age five, the parent would have had a way to force the school to consider acceleration, but the amended law provides none for forcing the school to consider placing a child who did not attend kindergarten but who is clearly ready for first grade in the appropriate challenge level, or for forcing the school to consider acceleration for a child who had not attended either kindergarten or first grade but who is ready for second grade. As written, since there is no equivalent provision to Section 48011, it would be illegal for a school to allow this for a six year old child, the school would be required to insist upon a full year of kindergarten even if the child would be repeating things he had learned at age three. You can only imagine the deadening effect that would have on able students.
Arguments Against. Technically, AB 1772 would not prohibit families from continuing to educate their children legally at home, whether by forming their own private school or enrolling their children in the public or private school of their choice. If the bill was passed, families would be required either to begin homeschooling their child at age five or to have the child complete a year of kindergarten in a public or private school prior to trying to enroll the child in first grade, and home-based private schools would be an acceptable choice. But I think people who believe that parents should not be forced to consider any formal schooling for their young child have many potential arguments.
At the very least, this bill would need to be amended to allow parents the right to be able to demonstrate readiness for first grade without attendance at a formal kindergarten program (AB 1772).
I believe that there are statistics showing that over 90% of children already attend a kindergarten program. Of the remaining families, perhaps some are negligent parents who are not doing enough to help their children be ready to succeed in school, but we all certainly know of many caring and competent parents who have very good reasons, which should not be subject to second-guessing by the state, for choosing not to send their child to school at five.
The “findings” of the authors of these bills about the benefits of formal schooling are not universally accepted fact. There are many equally compelling studies that demonstrate the benefits of not sending children to formal programs away from home too soon. Diane Flynn Keith has posted on a number of lists outlining her concerns, and I will have to refer you to what she and others have written.
These laws would place a burden on families that are expecting to choose private education, whether for reasons of religion, quality or safety, forcing them to incur expenses a year early.
There is the obvious budgetary issue. Mandating compulsory kindergarten would be very expensive and California has no funds to spare. Surely targeted outreach programs to selected communities would be much cheaper and would leave existing school funds for the better use of educating the older students who are already required to attend.
I would not make this argument to a legislator, but there is another important reason to fight compulsory kindergarten. Just as many legislators honestly believe that every five year old should go out of the house to school, many also believe that toddlers should be required to attend preschool. But, under existing law, the legislature could not possibly pass a bill making attendance at preschool compulsory because attendance at kindergarten isn’t compulsory. If, however, kindergarten were legally required, the legislature would have no remaining barriers preventing them from trying to mandate attendance at preschool.
Under existing law, a person between the ages of 6 and 18 years who is not exempted is subject to compulsory education. Existing law excludes a child under 6 from compulsory education. This bill would extend compulsory education to children from 5 to 18 years old.
HSC Legislative Chair, Debbie Schwarzer, explains how AB2203 and AB1772 could potentially affect homeschoolers. Read Debbie's in-depth analysis.
Introduced by Assembly Member Pan, Coauthors: Senator Wolk, Assembly Member Fuentes
February 23, 2012
This bill impacts those who waive some or all required immunizations by signing a personal beliefs statement. Beginning on January 1 2014, the personal beliefs statement would need to be accompanied by a written statement signed by a health care practitioner stating that he/she has provided information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and of the communicable diseases. The parent would also be required to sign a written statement indicating that he/she received that information.
Full Text of Bill as Passed
SECTION 1. Section 120365 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
120365. (a) Immunization of a person shall not be required for admission to a school or other institution listed in Section 120335 if the parent or guardian or adult who has assumed responsibility for his or her care and custody in the case of a minor, or the person seeking admission if an emancipated minor, files with the governing authority a letter or affidavit that documents which immunizations required by Section 120355 have been given, and which immunizations have not been given on the basis that they are contrary to his or her beliefs.
(b) On and after January 1, 2014, a form prescribed by the State Department of Public Health shall accompany the letter or affidavit filed pursuant to subdivision (a). The form shall include both of the following:
(1) A signed attestation from the health care practitioner that indicates that the health care practitioner provided the parent or guardian of the person who is subject to the immunization requirements of this chapter, the adult who has assumed responsibility for the care and custody of the person, or the person if an emancipated minor, with information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and the health risks of the communicable diseases listed in Section 120335 to the person and to the community. This attestation shall be signed not more than six months prior to the date when the person first becomes subject to the immunization requirement for which exemption is being sought.
(2) A written statement signed by the parent or guardian of the person who is subject to the immunization requirements of this chapter, the adult who has assumed responsibility for the care and custody of the person, or the person if an emancipated minor, that indicates that the signer has received the information provided by the health care practitioner pursuant to paragraph (1). This statement shall be signed not more than six months prior to the date when the person first becomes subject to the immunization requirements as a condition of admittance to a school or institution pursuant to Section 120335.
(c) The following shall be accepted in lieu of the original form:
(1) A photocopy of the signed form.
(2) A letter signed by a health care practitioner that includes all information and attestations included on the form.
(d) Issuance and revision of the form shall be exempt from the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code).
(e) When there is good cause to believe that the person has been exposed to one of the communicable diseases listed in subdivision (a) of Section 120325, that person may be temporarily excluded from the school or institution until the local health officer is satisfied that the person is no longer at risk of developing the disease.
(f) For purposes of this section, “health care practitioner” means any of the following:
(1) A physician and surgeon, licensed pursuant to Section 2050 of the Business and Professions Code.(2) A nurse practitioner who is authorized to furnish drugs pursuant to Section 2836.1 of the Business and Professions Code.(3) A physician assistant who is authorized to administer or provide medication pursuant to Section 3502.1 of the Business and Professions Code.(4) An osteopathic physician and surgeon, as defined in the Osteopathic Initiative Act.(5) A naturopathic doctor who is authorized to furnish or order drugs under a physician and surgeon’s supervision pursuant to Section 3640.5 of the Business and Professions Code.(6) A credentialed school nurse, as described in Section 49426 of the Education Code.
HSC and 2008 Court of Appeals Case Success
On August 8, 2008, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled that homeschooling is indeed a legal option in California. This was a reversal of a ruling in February of that year that parents must hold a teaching credential to homeschool their children, and confirmed HSC’s long-held interpretation of private school laws.
Open thank you letter to attorney Mark Parnes and the law firm (Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati) for successfully defending our right to homeschool.
The phrase “Independent Study Program” (ISP), when used by those in the private homeschool community, has applied to situations where one school files a single private school affidavit (PSA) for multiple homeschooling families whose children are enrolled in their school. Some programs characterized as ISPs are part of a private school campus-based school, some are operated as a business catering to homeschoolers, and others are composed entirely of homeschoolers. In almost all of these situations, the persons actually teaching the children enrolled in the school are the parents or guardians of the children, with varying degrees of assistance or supervision from the school.
The recent homeschooling case in Los Angeles has called into question the wisdom of using the ISP term. For reasons explained more fully below, the Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), California Home School Network (CHN), HomeSchool Association of California (HSC), Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and Private and Home Educators of California (part of FPM) are jointly making the following recommendations regarding the termination of the use of the term “independent study programs” in the future.
1. We are recommending that the private homeschool community at large, and the leaders of “private independent study programs” in particular, make a change from using the descriptive phrase “private school independent study program” (and its variants – e.g. “ISP”, “Private ISP”, etc.), and instead use the phrase “Private School Satellite Program” (PSP, with the second “S” purposely eliminated for simplicity). This will make it clear that these private homeschool programs, in which the students’ education is provided by or under the direction of their parents, are different from public school ISPs, in which there is an assigned credentialed teacher who directs the students’ education while the parents are teachers' aides.
If a school has the words “independent study program” as part of its name, we would recommend that the name be changed to eliminate that reference. We are not saying that schools offering this type of program need to incorporate the words “satellite program” as part of their official name, and we leave the selection of the new name to the schools. We do think, though, that it would be prudent to discontinue the use of the “ISP” term. We understand that this creates some hardship and inconvenience for some schools, and assure you that we are not making this recommendation lightly.
2. We also recommend that the administrator of each Private School Satellite Program (formerly ISP) include in their count of teachers on their annual private school affidavit at least one parent or guardian from each family in their Satellite Program (PSP), so that the number of reported teachers more correctly reflects the actual student-teacher ratio.
In concert with our recommendation #2 above, we want to remind every Private School Satellite Program administrator to continue to require “a record of educational qualification of each [teacher]” to be maintained at the address specified by the private school on the PSA (see Ed Code 33190(f)(3). The PSA does not ask for the names of teachers, and we do not recommend that any teacher names be given voluntarily.
This change in terminology DOES NOT affect parents who file an affidavit (PSA) for their own private school where they teach their own children, but will affect the remainder of homeschoolers in private school programs to varying degrees. Families who are enrolled in programs that we would now call PSPs do not need to do anything other than confirm with their schools that they are aware of these recommendations. If any school is not aware of them, please feel free to give them a copy of this message and ask them to contact one of the organizations listed above for further information if it is needed.
We are recommending this change because of certain developments in the homeschooling case pending before the California Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. You may wonder why we feel action is needed even though a new, final decision has not yet been issued. In its brief prepared for the June rehearing, the California Department of Education (CDE) expressed their official position on homeschooling, which calls into question the wisdom of continuing to use the term “ISP” to describe multi-family homeschool programs. It’s the CDE’s position that the only valid “independent study” programs are those public school home study programs that comply with very specific statutory requirements as outlined in the Education Code. We believe they were confused by the ISP name; in order to eliminate that confusion, we’re making these recommendations. We would like to note, however, that they did concede that one family can legally operate a private school in their home.
We believe that the term “Private School Satellite Program” accurately describes the operation of a private school that files an affidavit and serves multiple families, whether it be a private campus-based school with a home study option, a school operated as a business exclusively serving homeschoolers, or a private school composed entirely of homeschool families. In each case, the enrolled family’s home is a satellite location of the private school with the parents or guardians operating as the teachers of the children in their homes. We evaluated many different possible terms, researched whether those terms are used in California state laws or the education laws of other states, and determined after lengthy debate that “Private School Satellite Program” both did a good job of describing the situation and avoided any confusion with terms already used in state statutes or regulations.
We know that you may have questions and you should feel free to contact us for further clarification.
One of the most effective ways to participate in making sure that homeschooling remains a legal option in Caifornia is for homeschoolers to visit their own legislators. We are told by people who have worked on legislative matters for a long time that legislators really like to have a face to associate with a cause. Giving your legislators a family to think of when they think about homeschooling will help when the time for a vote on homeschooling comes up.
Your Amazon purchases can earn money for HSC while costing you absolutely nothing. Just go to Amazon using the following link or clicking on the banner ad, and HSC will get a percentage of the cost of anything you buy. (If you have an ad blocker, you may not see the banner ad.) Amazon Link