- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

The California appellate court that recently appeared to outlaw home-schooling in California has now agreed to rehear the case, raising hopes among home-schooling supporters that the court will revise its ruling. “Because this ruling impacts all Californians, we believe the case deserves a second look,” said Gary McCaleb, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which asked the 2nd District Court of Appeal for a rehearing of the case, “In re: Rachel L.” Home-schooling advocates nationwide were outraged with the appellate court’s unanimous Feb. 28 ruling that ordered two parents to send two of their children to school — as the children requested, through their lawyer — instead of home-schooling them. Unpublished court papers show that the family has been involved in the child welfare system for 20 years, amid charges of physical abuse by the father and sexual molestation of several of the daughters by a family friend. The court-appointed lawyer for the two youngest children, aged 10 and 8, recommended to a juvenile court judge that he order the children sent to school for their own education, safety and well being. The judge sympathized with the children — their home-schooling was “lousy,” he wrote — but he refused to order them sent to school because he believed their parents had a right to teach their children as they saw fit. The children’s lawyer appealed, and the appellate court ruled in their favor: Since the children’s mother did not have the required “valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught,” she could not teach the children at home, the appellate court said. But the appellate court also opined that under California’s Education Code, “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” This blanket statement, which appeared to criminalize home-schooling in California, roiled home-schoolers and their allies, and sent politicians to the microphones to defend parents’ rights to teach their children. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised that the law would be fixed. Now a new round of briefings are due in April, and a new hearing is expected in June.

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