Union pleased with ruling
Homeschooling parent Debbie Schwarzer(picture above left) of Los Altos said she's ready for a fight.Schwarzer runs Oak Hill Academy out of her Santa Clara County home.It is a state-registered private school with two students, she said, noting they are her own children, ages 10 and 12. She does not have a teaching credential, but she does have a law degree."I'm kind of hoping some truancy officer shows up on my doorstep," she said. "I'm ready. I have damn good arguments."She opted to teach her children at home to better meet their needs.The ruling, Schwarzer said, "stinks."
Began as child welfare case
The Long family legal battle didn't start out as a test case on the validity of homeschooling.It was a child welfare case.A juvenile court judge looking into one child's complaint of mistreatment by Philip Long found that the children were being poorly educated but refused to order two of the children, ages 7 and 9, to be enrolled in a full-time school. He said parents in California have a right to educate their children at home.The appeals court told the juvenile court judge to require the parents to comply with the law by enrolling their children in a school, but excluded the Sunland Christian School from enrolling the children because that institution "was willing to participate in the deprivation of the children's right to a legal education."The decision could also affect other kinds of homeschooled children, including those enrolled in independent study or distance learning through public charter schools - a setup similar to the one the Longs have, Dacus said.Charter school advocates disagreed, saying Thursday that charter schools are public and are required to employ only credentialed teachers to supervise students - whether in class or through independent study.
Ruling will apply statewide
Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the ruling would effectively ban homeschooling in the state.[[["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," he said in a statement.]]]But Leslie Heimov, executive director of the Children's Law Center of Los Angeles, which represented the Longs' two children in the case, said the ruling did not change the law."They just affirmed that the current California law, which has been unchanged since the last time it was ruled on in the 1950s, is that children have to be educated in a public school, an accredited private school, or with an accredited tutor," she said. "If they want to send them to a private Christian school, they can, but they have to actually go to the school and be taught by teachers."Heimov said her organization's chief concern was not the quality of the children's education, but their "being in a place daily where they would be observed by people who had a duty to ensure their ongoing safety."
The ruling: To view the ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal, go to links.sfgate.com/ZCQR.
This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle