By Hilary White

LOS ANGELES, March 5, 2008 ( – Thousands of homeschoolers in California are left in legal limbo by an appeals court ruling that homeschooling is not a legal option in the state and that a family who has homeschooled all their children for years must enrol their two youngest in state or private schools. Justice H. Walter Croskey in a written opinion said, “California courts have held that under provisions in the Education Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children.”

The sweeping February 29th ruling says that California law requires “persons between the ages of six and eighteen” to be in “public full-time day school,” or a “private full-time day school” or “instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught”.

The two youngest of Phillip and Mary Long’s eight children must be enrolled in a state approved school. Phillip Long told WorldNetDaily, “We just don’t want them teaching our children. They teach things that are totally contrary to what we believe. They put questions in our children’s minds we don’t feel they’re ready for.”

Mr. Long cited the state curriculum’s inclusion of sex education, including its promotion of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. “When they are much more mature, they can deal with these issues, alternative lifestyles, and such, or whether they came from primordial slop. At the present time it’s my job to teach them the correct way of thinking,” he said.

The Los Angeles-area family was targeted by Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services after one of the children reported “physical and emotional mistreatment by the children’s father,” according to documents submitted to the court.

The 2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles agreed with the trial court decision that had found, “keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where they could interact with people outside the family”.

“There are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children’s lives, and they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents’ ‘cloistered’ setting,” the ruling said.

Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), said in a March 3 statement that the organization “strongly disputes this interpretation of California law” and is studying the decision.

The group called the ruling “a very bad decision” saying, “the opinion holds that homeschooling is not a legal option in California.”

“If the opinion is followed, then California will have the most regressive law in the nation and homeschooling will be effectively banned, because the only legal way to homeschool will be for the parent to hold a teaching certificate. Parents should not have to attend a four-year college education program just to teach their own children.”

Smith added, “California is now on the path to being the only state to deny the vast majority of homeschooling parents their fundamental right to teach their own children at home.”

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