LOS ANGELES (CN) – California parents who lack teaching credentials can still home-school their children, a state appeals court ruled.
The case hinges on a century-old law meant to eliminate home schooling. The 1903 compulsory education law requires all school-age children to attend public school, but makes exceptions for private schools and private tutors, who must have credentials.
Over the next several decades, the Legislature never amended or repealed the compulsory education law. However, lawmakers have since passed statutes that indicate their awareness – and even approval of – home schooling in California.
The appeals court concluded that, because it had to interpret the law in light of the later ones, it must recognize the Legislature’s “apparent acceptance of the proposition that home schools are permissible in California when conducted as private schools.”
The private tutor exemption does not apply to most home-school situations, because it requires the tutor to have teaching credentials. But the private school exemption is “ambiguous and therefore capable of interpretation,” Justice Croskey wrote.
“We therefore conclude that home schools may constitute private schools.”
However, the court said there was a safety valve for pupils of abusive or negligent home-school teachers. An order requiring a child to attend a school outside the home in order to protect that child’s safety does not violate the parents’ right to control the education of their child, the court ruled.