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How To Homeschool

Legal Concerns

What are the legal concerns I should be aware of and what protections are available for my family?

Every year a few homeschooling families are contacted by officials who tell them it's illegal to homeschool. The best defense is knowing the law and your homeschooling rights. As a parent, you have the right to choose the best education for your child. Don't be nervous just because someone who isn't aware of this tries to tell you otherwise. Parents have schooled their children at home for many decades, with the knowledge of both legislators, and the California Department of Education.

Questions you might ask yourself include:

  • What is the "climate" for homeschoolers in my county?
  • Have I had previous run-ins with school officials?
  • Does my family have some unique circumstances that might be targeted, e.g., a non-custodial parent who disagrees with homeschooling?
  • Do both parents work outside the home?
  • Am I a single parent?
  • Is my family receiving public assistance?
  • Do I have unfriendly neighbors or relatives who have a history of reporting me to authorities?

If your answers are no, your likelihood of being contacted by anyone is slim. "Know the Code" and be an informed and strong homeschooler. A yes answer to any of these questions should lead you to consider carefully which legal option is best for your present circumstances. However, keep in mind that your risk of being contacted by an authority would be increased even if you weren't homeschooling.



Daytime Curfew

There is no statewide curfew law in California. Sometimes youíll hear people say that California Ed. Code 48200 is where the statewide curfew exists. This section of the code talks about truancy from public school, and private schools are exempt:

48220. The classes of children described in this article, shall be exempted by the proper school authorities from the requirements of attendance upon a public full-time day school.

Many cities in California do have daytime curfew laws. Most include a statement saying that the curfew applies on days and/or times when the studentís school is in session. If the studentís school is not in session during that day or time, the curfew doesnít apply to them.

Sometimes teens who may be out in the community without their parent may be stopped in daytime curfew communities. Whether you live in a curfew community or not, itís a good idea for the older kids who are out during public school hours to carry a school ID card with them, and to know how to reach you by phone. They should be instructed to politely explain that their private school is not in session and that they have permission from their parent to be out. If there is a problem, contact CHN at 800-327-5339 or email CHN's Legal Rights Team.

If you are unsure about curfew laws in your community, you can check to see if your city has their municipal code online here. or you can call the police department or your city councilman and ask for a copy of the code. Ask for it in print so you can read it yourself.

Additional resources: Americans for a Society Free From Age Restrictions .

A Status Report on Youth Curfew Laws in American Cities .

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