A California appeals court has made the decision that only parents who hold teaching credentials can legally homeschool their children.
"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children,"Justice Walter Croskey wrote. The ruling was unanimous.
Many parents are upset about the ruling, which means they could face potential prosecution if they do not comply with the law. It is estimated more than 160,000 students are homeschooled in California.
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The ruling comes from a California child welfare case where two parents homeschooled their eight children without either holding a teaching certificate. The children were also enrolled in a private school, which considered them a part of their school, although in independent study. The school reported that they visit the children several times a year.
Legitimate Schools, Unqualified Teachers?
The appeals court said the state law on education has been clear since 1953, when another appellate court rejected a separate challenge by parents.
Education officials theorize that some homeschooling parents avoid that law by registering as a private education institution with the state, then only enroll their children.
But to become a teacher in the state, a person must have a bachelor's degree and pass a battery of certification tests.
California's Teachers Union said they were pleased with the court's ruling. One board director said that they believe "students should be taught by credentialed teachers, no matter what the setting."
Homeschooling Effectively Banned
The president of the Home School Legal Defense Association says 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.
One parent told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "if homeschooling becomes illegal, then it's just going to become underground."
One legal expert on children's law says the court did not change the law, they only upheld it. She said that "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."
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune