Charges against California Home Schooling Family that Led to Homeschool Ban Likely to be Dropped

By Ted Baklinski

LOS ANGELES, July 23, 2008 ( - The charges against a California family that led to an Appellate Court decision to ban home schooling in the state have been dropped by the family court judge involved in the original case.

The Appellate Court’s ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, California, who have been homeschooling their eight children.

Two years ago, court-appointed lawyers had asked that the two youngest Long children be ordered to attend a school outside the home. That request became the basis for the Appellate court’s February ruling that homeschooling is illegal in California.

The family court judge overseeing the two homeschooled children at the center of the case, however, has now terminated his jurisdiction over the children. Now Mr. Long’s attorneys are asking the Appellate court to drop the homeschooling case altogether.

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the decision of the family court to terminate jurisdiction will likely lead to the Appellate court dismissing the case.

"This development likely means that the horrible Court of Appeals decision outlawing home schooling in California will not be resurrected," he said. "That’s good news for the 200,000 home-schooled kids in that state."

"Apparently the state decided it either didn’t want to pursue the parents or the court decided that they couldn’t pursue the parents," Mr. Hausknecht explained. "And so, essentially, there is no case left, no parties left for the appellate court to actually apply their decision to."

Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, said the Appellate Court is expected to decide in the next few weeks whether to drop its earlier ruling.

"If that were to happen, we would be back at square one as if this whole mess had never taken place - at least legally speaking - because there’d be absolutely no precedent on the books," Mr. Dacus said in the Focus on the Family Action report.

Mike Farris, chairman and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said, "This is a significant favorable development toward preserving homeschooling freedom in California."

With both state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger throwing their support behind the state’s homeschoolers, it appears increasingly likely the Appellate Court will reverse its earlier decision.

O’Connell released a statement supporting the rights of parents to homeschool their children, despite the Second District Court of Appeals ruling to the contrary.

"I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state," O’Connell said.

Governor Schwarzenegger said the court ruling stating that parents must have a teaching credential to home school their children was "outrageous."

"Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what’s best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children’s education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don’t protect parents’ rights then, as elected officials, we will," he said.

See previous coverage:

California Court Rules Homeschooling Illegal

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