Home School Court Report
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No. 6

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Homeschool Freedom & the California Case Timeline

November 24, 1953: People v. Turner rules that California law does not allow parents to homeschool. (There is no discussion on homeschooling as a private school.)

September 18, 1961: In re Shinn reaches the same conclusion as Turner.

1982: Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) is founded.

Jim Mason, Mike Smith and Mike Farris
HSLDA/Kimberlee Bloom
HSLDA—Jim Mason (top left), Mike Smith (top right) and Mike Farris (seated) worked together to craft the best possible defense of homeschool freedom.

1986: California legislature amends education code to allow a “person” to “conduct” a private school.

1987: HomeSchool Association of California (HSC) is founded.

1990: Legislature ceases to require the state department of education to keep a list of private schools with fewer than five students.

1994: California Homeschool Network (CHN) is founded.

August 1998: California legislature requires public and private school employees to file fingerprints for a criminal background check but includes a specific exemption for parents working exclusively with their own children.

2000–2007: HSLDA fights multiple small cases in defense of homeschoolers using the private school exemption—none are precedent-setting.

October 29, 2005: Rachel L. runs away from home. Some weeks later, she contacts the police and charges her parents with abuse and neglect. At this point, she is placed in foster care.

January 31, 2006: The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigates Rachel’s story and files a dependency petition on her behalf.

February 2, 2006: Attorneys from DCFS file a petition for court jurisdiction of Rachel’s younger siblings, Jonathan and Mary Grace, arguing that their safety, too, is endangered.

May 18, 2006: During the adjudication hearing, Jonathan and Mary Grace’s Children’s Law Center (CLC) attorney requests a court order requiring the children to attend a school outside the home to further protect their well-being.

June 5, 2006: The juvenile court rules against the L. family but declines to order Jonathan and Mary Grace to be enrolled in school. The court continues jurisdiction in order to monitor the family.

July 21, 2006: The L. family’s parents appeal the decision for continued jurisdiction to the Second District Court of Appeal.

August 7, 2006: The CLC files a writ petition requesting the appellate court to reverse the decision that the children should not be forced into a school. The CLC also argues that, based on People v. Turner and In re Shinn, homeschooling under a private school statute is illegal in California.

October 19, 2006: The appellate court consolidates the parents’ appeal with the writ petition.

December 2006–March 2007: Briefs are filed before the appellate court.

November 13, 2007: The court hears oral arguments.

November 20, 2007: The appeals court hands down an unpublished opinion ruling against the parents’ appeal in In re Rachel L.

February 28, 2008: The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District hands down a certified ruling on the writ petition In re Rachel L. declaring that homeschooling as a private school is illegal in California. HSLDA learns of the case and reviews it for the first time.

February 29, 2008: WorldNetDaily breaks the news of the Rachel L. decision to the public.

March 6, 2008: HSLDA sends out its first e-lert on the case.

March 7, 2008: Dr. James Dobson discusses the California ruling on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast with Carrie Gordon Earll, Michael Farris, Roy Hanson, and an anonymous California homeschool mom. HSLDA launches its online petition for depublication.

March 8, 2008: Gary Kreep, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation (USJF), and HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris attend a Council for National Policy conference, where Kreep informs Farris that he has been asked by the family to represent them and requests HSLDA’s help with the case. Soon after, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) also becomes part of the family’s defense team.

March 12, 2008: Homeschool leaders arrive in Washington, D.C., for an annual leaders’ summit. Through quick footwork, HSLDA and the leaders avert a well-intentioned but misguided congressional attempt to protect homeschooling at the federal level. HSLDA’s Federal Relations department begins to work with Congress on the California case.

March 15, 2008: A petition for rehearing is filed by one of the L. family’s attorneys, Gary Kreep.

March 25, 2008: The court of appeals vacates its original ruling in Rachel L., agrees to rehear the case, orders the case to be re-briefed, and invites amicus briefs, setting the amicus brief deadline for May 19.

March 26, 2008: California Homeschool Network, Christian Home Educators Association of California, Private & Home Educators of California, Home-School Association of California, and HSLDA release a Joint Statement Regarding Homeschooling in California.

April 28, 2008: With HSLDA’s assistance, USJF and ADF submit the family’s opening brief for rehearing.

May 19, 2008: Forty-one organizations file 16 amicus briefs, most of which support homeschooling. The L. family files their second brief in response to the children’s attorneys’ brief.

June 2, 2008: The L. family submits a letter brief in response to amicus briefs.

June 3, 2008: The L. family submits a brief responding to a late amicus from the school district.

June 23, 2008: Oral arguments are presented before the California Second District Court of Appeal.

July 7, 2008: Jim Mason, HSLDA Senior Counsel, prepares a supplemental letter brief for the father’s legal team to file on topics argued but not briefed by the amici opposing homeschooling.

July 10, 2008: The juvenile court terminates its jurisdiction in the case because the family has complied with and met all requirements established by the court on June 5, 2006.

July 28, 2008: The L. family submits a motion to dismiss the case on grounds that the juvenile court has already terminated its jurisdiction.

August 8, 2008: The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District reverses its decision (denying the family’s motion to dismiss the case) drops Rachel L. from the case title since she is no longer living at home, renames the case Jonathan L., and rules that homeschooling in California is legal as a “species” of private school.