Establishing Your Private School
Home educators may establish a private school based in their home by filing a Private School Affidavit (PSA) with the California Department of Education (CDE).
Where and When to File the PSA
The Private School Affidavit may be filed online at the California Department of Education website from October 1st to October 15th of every year. Schools that are created after the filing period should file at the time the school is established.
On-line PSA form: http://www3.cde.ca.gov/psa/form.asp?formtype=blank
Need help filling out the PSA? CHN has information pages that may be downloaded to assist in filling out your PSA. Click for detailed line by line instructions. (This information is updated every year in October after the new PSA is available online.)
CHN recommends that you file electronically using the CDE's online form. If you provide a working email address, you will immediately receive a confirmation number and a link to view your PSA online. Keep that information in case anyone requests a confirmation! If you need to file your affidavit and cannot do so electronically, you have two choices. First, you may request a paper PSA from the state. To receive a paper PSA, e-mail email@example.com or call 916-445-7331. Secondly, CHN has developed a "Statement in Lieu" that has been accepted by the CDE. CHN recommends the paper PSA over the Statement in Lieu if the on-line PSA is not available to you.
How the Private School Affidavit Works
The affidavit does not license, evaluate, recognize, approve of, or endorse a private school. The State of California accredits neither public nor private schools. The affidavit itself is a statistical tool, and necessary to effect the pupil's exemption from compulsory public school enrollment and attendance. By filing an affidavit you are showing intent to establish a private school, and informing the state, as required by law. Parents have been legally using this provision for many years to conduct their own home-based private schools.
California Private School Requirements
Education Code sections §48222, §48415, §33190, §51210 and §51220 set the criteria for a private school. The following legal requirements apply to all private schools regardless of size:
- The administrator of every private school must file an affidavit with the Superintendent of Public Instruction between October 1st and October 15th of each year.
- Private school instructors must be "capable of teaching." There is, however, no requirement in the CA Education Code that mandates that teachers in a private school setting hold a state teaching credential or have the equivalent training.
- The names and addresses, including city and street, of the faculty must be kept on file, as must a record of the educational qualifications of each instructor.
- Instruction must be in English.
- Instruction must be offered "in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools." The materials and methods you use to teach these areas are up to you. You are not required to teach every subject as long as it is offered and available to the student:
- Grades 1-6: English, math, social sciences, science, fine arts, health and phys ed.
- Grades 7-12: All that is included in the above plus: foreign language, applied arts, vocational ed and drivers ed.
CHN's School Record Keeping page has links to forms and examples to help you understand the record keeping requirements.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
Should I file a PSA for Preschool and/or Kindergarten?
Kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in California. A child is subject to compulsory education and entry into the first grade the year he/she turns 6 before September 1st.
You may, of course, teach your pre-schooler and five year old at home. Do not, however, indicate enrollment of these children on your affidavit.
Should I file a PSA if I am using a correspondence school?
In some instances, yes, you may need to file a PSA. Families enrolled in out-of-state programs are required by law to be enrolled in a California private school. Sometimes, the program has an office in California, and files the PSA. If it doesn't, it will be up to you to file an affidavit or enroll in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP).
Am I required to submit a fingerprint check?
According to California Educational Code §44237(b)(4), the fingerprinting requirement does not apply to a "parent or legal guardian working exclusively with his or her own children." CHN uncovered this information in 1999, and homeschoolers have been spared this nuisance and expense ever since. For those who wonder why they should bother joining a state group, this is a perfect example. As an organized group, we are making a difference!
If my county or school district asks for further information from me, what should I do?
Sometimes a polite reminder is necessary that the only information that the state can ask of private schools is that which is listed in California Education §33190.
Who should file a PSA?
File an affidavit if your child is not in a public school program (charter school or ISP) and you have not enrolled your child in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP). Continue to file every year between October 1-15.
Help! I still have questions, what should I do?
If you still have questions, call your CHN Local Contact or The Homeschool Hot Line at (800)327-5339 for more information. Email the legal rights committee about any problems you may have with Department of Education officials.