CA Court Re-examines Homeschool Case

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A California appeals court will take a second look at the ruling that deemed nearly all homeschooling parents in the state unqualified to teach their children.

In February, the appeals court ruled that parents without teaching credentials don't have the legal right to school their children at home.

The case set off concerns that California might take legal action to stop most homeschooling in the state.

"This is such a sweeping decision, it basically blackballs homeschooling in any format, any kind of configuration where parents are not credentialed teachers," Attorney Brad Dacus, who was involved in the case, said.

Why Rehear the Case?

It is uncertain why the judges have decided to reexamine the case, but some believe the decision was based in part on the angry reaction the ruling received.

California Gov. Schwarzenegger blasted the ruling, saying the court should overturn the "outrageous" ruling.

Still, the head of the public school system assured parents in a letter that "policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling."

Pro-family activist Randy Thomasson thinks the judges have to take up the case again because they got it so wrong the first time.

"The state law doesn't say the teacher must have a credential in a private school," he said. "The state law nowhere says that your private school cannot be in your own house."

And he says the record shows those with teacher's certificates aren't necessarily the best teachers.

"Only the public schools require a certificate and they're doing the worst for the children," Thomasson added.

Fleeing the Golden State?

The ruling has put somewhat of a fright into many homeschoolers. CBN News crossed paths with some at a Sonoma County park as their kids played.

One mom says she wasn't worried until others started to ask her questions.

"I'm not scared," she said. "Should I be?"

The Moreno family started homeschooling eight years ago. They expect the harsh ruling to be overturned. But if it isn't, as Christians, they're prepared for the worst.

"We expect to be persecuted at some point," said Anthony Moreno.

Others say they would flee the state.

"Oh, I would leave in a heartbeat. I would not be living in California," another mother said.

Linda Freeman homeschools her oldest daughter in Marin County. She said she thinks the court was just seeing how much it could get away with.

"It's a toe-dip. let's see if this will stand," she said.

Public Schools Losing Money?

She added that many Californians believe their school districts lose funding because the 166,000 homeschooled students aren't in those district schools. But most homeschoolers see it a whole different way.

"We pay tax dollars towards the schools, towards education. But we don't use it. And they don't give us anything as homeschoolers."

In fact, Dacus says this is exactly the wrong moment for cash-strapped California to try to move homeschool kids back into the public schools, because each would cost the state around $8,000.

"So we're looking at about roughly $2 billion in additional costs to the taxpayers for these children to be forced back into the public schools, at a time when the California budget is already billions in the red," he said.

Arguing for Homeschoolers

Gary McCaleb, with the Alliance Defense Fund, helped represent the homeschooling family in court Monday. He said he doesn't expect the court to rule on this case for several weeks. The court cannot make constitution al decisions on cases like this that are based on the issues surrounding one family, he said.

McCaleb said he is hopeful the decision will be overturned, becuse the state does not have the right to take away parental rights.

But if it isn't, he says he is prepared to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Paul Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

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