by Rebecca Kocsis
We are experiencing unprecedented times. California parents are faced with some tough decisions due to COVID-19 precautions. Do they keep their children in their public school and follow distance learning? Or do they take them out and homeschool them privately? For various reasons, many parents feel they have no choice but to homeschool. You may be reading this article and thinking, “Hey, she’s talking about me!” Parents are taking their children out of the public school system in droves.
Unfortunately, because these are unprecedented times, things are not proceeding with business as usual — especially when it comes to withdrawing children from their public schools. We understand the California Department of Education (CDE) has made the recommendation that schools and districts not remove children from their enrollment without the submission of a private school affidavit (PSA). This is a “new rule,” but it is not consistent with the law. Add to this that schools and districts are not proceeding in a uniform manner even with the CDE’s “new rule,” and new homeschoolers are meeting with resistance.
Regardless, CHEA’s recommendation is still as follows:
To withdraw your child from public school, send a certified letter to the student’s “old school” notifying them they are transferring to another school.
Then have the new school send a certified letter requesting records be sent to them.
If you are enrolling your child in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP), the PSP should request your students’ records from the old school.
If you will be operating as a single-family private school for the 20/21 school year — the new school that you have established will send for the child’s records.
Parents do not need to supply a Private School Affidavit (PSA) in order to withdraw their child from school. I realize this is contrary to what many families are being told by their old schools; that they should just file a PSA using last year’s form and submit that to them.
However, that’s not what the law says. CHEA recommends you wait until the legally prescribed October filing period.
Why not just comply and file a PSA for the last school year? After all, isn’t it the path of least resistance?
Because the PSA is a legal document you file and sign under penalty of perjury. Its criteria is prescribed by law. You are stating that you had a private school for the 2019/2020 school year, which you did not. The law is clear. The filing period is October 1-15. The PSA is a notification for data purposes; it is not a prerequisite to withdraw students from public school as schools and the CDE are saying.
Here’s why we are taking this stand. We believe that complying with directions, or made up rules, that are contrary to the established statutes for the convenience of schools, districts, and the CDE sets a dangerous precedent.
Do we set aside the rule of law for convenience sake? Are we potentially setting ourselves up to be expected to make other concessions for “convenience sake”? Thus incrementally compromising our freedom to teach our children at home under the private school statutes? If we give a little here and give a little there, will we eventually find ourselves with no ground left to defend?
The landscape is ripe for legislators to come back and take another stab at the PSA statutes like they did in 2018. We were told then that we should at least be willing to make some type of compromise. We were not. And our homeschool freedoms were preserved.
Because of this, CHEA has been in contact with the CDE. We are working in conjunction with our partners at Family Protection Ministries and HSLDA to iron out this situation with them and help families withdraw their children from school.
If you continue to meet resistance or roadblocks from the “old school,” we recommend you join HSLDA and allow the attorneys to speak on your behalf – especially if your old school is already back in session.
Why listen to CHEA rather than the CDE? CHEA has been helping families homeschool privately and legally in California since 1982. We have more than 35 years of experience in protecting parent’s rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children. The CDE’s expertise is in public school administration. Additionally, the CDE cannot change the law. The law is on our side.
Here’s something to remember. Good people are going to disagree. New (temporary?) homeschoolers may feel it’s not worth the stress to stand their ground. Other leaders interpret these directions from the CDE differently and make different recommendations. The circumstances are varied and so responses will vary. What we see as a dangerous precedence genuinely looks like a simple solution to others.