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Home Visits by Officials

The Three Little Homeschoolers—A Tale of Caution

Once upon a time there were 3 homeschooling families. The first family knew nothing about their legal rights. The second family had listened to a seminar in which their legal rights were discussed, and the third family knew the Code.

One day a big, overbearing, scary school official showed up on the doorstep of family #1. Since they didn't know any better, they opened the door and invited in the BOSS official. He asked for their school records, and they showed them. He threatened them with a SARB and they folded. The next day they took all their children back to school.

A week later the BOSS official showed up at the door of family #2. They didn't know what to do, so they also let him in. He asked to see their school records, and they weren't sure what to do. They vaguely remembered hearing something about not having to comply with that request. "Gosh darn," they thought, "I wish I could remember what was said at that last conference." After the school official left, they called (800) 327-5339 to ask what they should do. Unfortunately the 800# hostess was at a park day. By the time they were phoned back that evening, they were frantic. Of course they received the needed help, but they had aged several years from their initial worries.

When BOSS official knocked at the door of family #3, they had no worries. They knew the Code! After a few minutes of visiting on the doorstep, BOSS official was very intimidated and left. He never returned to that doorstep again.

Moral of the story: Know the Code!


Your Rights

A public school official can only enter your home if you voluntarily allow him to enter or he has a warrant or court order. Public school officials requiring access to a home-based, private school to determine if you are breaking the compulsory education laws, are violating your 4th amendment rights, your right to privacy and to due process.

The California Education Code sections 48222, 48415, and 33190, allow public school officials the right to verify that the Private School Affidavit or alternative form have been filed. They have no right to evaluate your curriculum or examine your school or student records. They can verify attendance of a child if they can provide you with the name of the child they suspect of being truant.


Commonly Asked Questions

Are home visits by school district officials required by California law for private, home-based schools?

No. Public school district officials have no authority over private schools. They cannot evaluate, recognize, approve or endorse any private school, so they have no need to look at your school records. If you have a child enrolled in a public school independent study program or charter school, however, you may be legally subject to home visits depending on the requirements of the program. Some public ISPs and/or charter schools include a written provision for home visits.

What do I do if someone shows up on my doorstep?

Best of all, don't answer the door. CHN's Companion CD to the California Homeschool Guide has several versions of a great door sign. The sign states, "Kindly respect the wishes of this family by not disturbing us. We do not answer our door unless we know you or are expecting you. US Mail and UPS are welcome, as are friends. Others should make an appointment."
If you do answer your door and find a school official on your doorstep, be polite to avoid escalating the situation. You may show them your copy of the affidavit you have provided to the State of California, whether it is the form produced by the California Department of Education, the alternative form on the CHN website or a letter. Explain to them that you have a legal private school. If you are professional and articulate, they may hesitate to pursue the issue further.

What if the school official tells me, "You might as well let me in, or I'm going to come back with a police officer?"

A police officer has no more right than a public school official to enter your home without a warrant or court order.

What if they ask me who is enrolled in my school?

Do not give them the names of your children. If they are concerned with a truancy issue, they must provide you with the name of the child in question. You can say, "Yes, that child is enrolled and is meeting all our requirements."


What if they request to see my school records?

If they have another issue, such as wanting to inspect your school records, student records, attendance, or verify your curriculum, tell them that "The information you are requesting is confidential." You may refer them to Education Code Section 33190, which allows them to verify that the affidavit was filed, but does not grant them authority to look at any other information. Showing them records that they are not legally mandated to see sets a dangerous precedent for all home-based private schools. Please do not cooperate with illegal requests.

What if they ask to come in?

Don't invite them into your home. Step outside to talk. If you need to get a copy of the Private School Affidavit to show them, close and lock the door and go get it. It is always a good idea to get their business card so that you have a name, phone number and job title. You may wish to politely explain, "This is not a convenient time; school is in session. If you will leave me your business card, I'll contact you later."

What do I do when they leave?

At your convenience, call CHN and let us know about your contact. Often, if we contact the school district on your behalf, their demands will cease. You may wish, if you expect further contact, to make certain everyone is up and dressed by 8:00 a.m. for the next few weeks. If needed, straighten up your home. Be prepared for another visit accompanied by a warrant, if the truancy officer reported "terrible conditions."

Do I handle CPS differently?

If you receive a visit from CPS and are told that you are being investigated because of "homeschooling" or "educational neglect," please let CHN know as soon as possible. You may also wish to contact an attorney. More information.

What are my chances of being contacted?

Your chances of being challenged are slim.


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