California Home Schoolers Told to Ignore Threatening Memo

by Jim Brown

(AgapePress) – A leader in the home-schooling movement is dismissing a memo from the California Department of Education warning parents they cannot educate their children at home unless they obtain professional teaching credentials.

The memorandum from Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza was sent to all school employees and stated that “home schooling … is not an authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance.” It also warned that children educated at home by parents without professional teaching credentials would be considered “truant” if they were not attending public schools.

Mike Smith is president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He is not sure what the motivation behind the memo is — but he is urging home educators to ignore it.

“I believe that it was sent out to cause home schoolers to have pause about filing the private school affidavit — again, as we've been doing for the last 20 years in California establishing ourselves as a private school — and to contemplate the possibility of joining a public school, either independent study program or charter school program.”

Smith says when local county superintendents have received similar memorandums in the past, they often send letters to private school administrators informing them that they cannot file a private school affidavit anymore if they have less than five students. But regarding this latest memo, he says he is not aware of a heightened attempt to prosecute families in California.

“It reflects a position that the California Department of Education has had for some years, probably ten years now,” he explains. “But this is the first time they've sent it out in one letter, all saying the same thing to every county superintendent at the same time — and also accompanied with it is the indication that home schoolers with less than five students shouldn't file an affidavit. Those are all new.”

Smith says at this point, there is no willingness within the State Department of Education to explain the motivation behind the memo.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

Earlier Story

SACRAMENTO, August 21, 2002 ( – Officials from the state Department of Education in California, which has a $23 billion budgeting deficit, are threatening parents that they can no longer provide home education for their children unless they obtain so-called professional teaching credentials. Failure to comply, said the cash-strapped bureaucracy, will be met with charges of “truancy.”

Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza wrote in a July 16 memo to all school employees that, “In California, 'home schooling' – a situation where non-credentialed parents teach their own children, exclusively, at home … is not an authorized exemption from mandatory public school attendance.”

“This has to do with money and ideology,” said J. Michael Smith, president of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association. “California would be the only state in the union that would require home schoolers to be certified teachers.”

Last month California put forward various extreme pieces of legislation. Proposed was legislation to force employers to pay same-sex benefits; to require state medical schools to teach abortion; and to 'ban' possible future laws against abortion.

To read the Washington Times coverage, click here.

(This update courtesy of LifeSite News.)

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