by Katie Julius

Each October, we get a slew of questions that are based on misconceptions about the Private School Affidavit. So, let’s get into some of these and debunk the misinformation that abounds.

What is the PSA? Why Do We File It?

The Private School Affidavit is a statement of facts (the definition of “affidavit”) about a private school as of the date it is filed. All private schools complete this form (typically online through the California Department of Education’s website), from the large private school down the street from you to each single-family home-based private school. Since “homeschooling” is not a term found in California law, all students are either enrolled in a public or private school (or in rare situations, taught by a certificated tutor). Because CA Ed Code Section 33190 states that all private schools must file the Private School Affidavit, as private home schools, we must as well, to be in compliance with state laws to exempt our children from compulsory public school attendance.

I can only file the PSA between October 1 and 15.

If you began homeschooling prior to October in a given school year, you should file your PSA during the stated filing period. However, the PSA is available online through June each year. If you don’t get to it in the filing period, file as soon as you remember. It takes about 15 minutes the first time and 5-10 minutes if you filed the previous year and enter your confirmation code to pre-populate many of the required fields.

I should file the PSA now in case I want to homeschool later this year.

The simple answer is no. Students cannot be enrolled in two schools at the same time, so you could not legally complete the PSA if there are no students enrolled in your school. However, you might remember from the previous response that the PSA is available through June of each school year. If you decide to homeschool after the October filing period, you would just complete the PSA at the time you withdraw your students from their current school.

The PSA is an application, and I need to wait for approval before I can begin homeschooling.

The PSA is not an application. It is an affidavit. A statement of facts. You are notifying the state of the existence of your single-family private school, where it exists, the number of students who are enrolled in each grade, and the number of staff (that’s you!). There is no approval process. Once you submit your affidavit, you will receive a confirmation that it was submitted. Print a copy of the confirmation and the completed form for your records, and that’s it! You will likely not hear from the state again until it’s time to file again next year.

I am enrolled in an online school so I don’t need to file a PSA.

Many parents are interested in “accredited” schools (read about accreditation concerns in a previous Mythbusting article here). This often leads to enrollment in online schools that advertise accreditation. However, if the online school is based outside of California, in order to fulfill the requirements to be exempt from compulsory attendance laws, you must file a PSA. Students in California must be enrolled in a school in California.
The online program is now just your curriculum, and your school is not accredited.

I have to show my PSA to my school, district, the state, etc.

This practice and requests by schools stem from faulty information that was provided to them in the summer of 2020. The CDE has issued corrected information. You do not need to show your PSA to your school or district to withdraw your students. Requesting your students’ records with a certified letter mailed from you as your private school will satisfy their obligation to ensure the child was enrolled in a school that meets the requirements for compulsory attendance (or exemption from it). You should keep a copy of your PSA in your school files.

The PSA is proof of enrollment of a specific student.

If you have never filed a PSA before, you may not be aware, but the PSA never asks for identifying student information beyond youngest and oldest ages enrolled and the number of students in each grade. The PSA cannot be used as proof of enrollment for any specific student as the student’s name is not included. The only names on the PSA form are those of the school administrators.

I can include children other than my own on my PSA.

You can. Doing so creates additional considerations that you, as the school administrator should first take into account. Are you willing and able to accept responsibility for that child’s education? If you are fulfilling the role of teacher, then that probably does not pose a problem. If not, will the child’s parent/educator cooperate with you as the administrator in fulfilling the law and keeping his or her student records current?

If you are considering establishing a pod or a private school satellite program (PSP), then depending on the structure there are many other factors to consider. Essentially, in addition to establishing a private school, you will most likely also be running a business. It’s important that you know the laws pertaining to both if you embark upon this type of endeavor. CHEA can help answer your questions about establishing a private school satellite program. We recommend you speak with an accountant and your city or county business licensing agent for local laws for businesses.

I need to update my PSA if I add another student later in the year or if my student enrolls in another school.

As we have mentioned previously, the PSA is a snapshot of your school on the day it is filed. You do not need to update your form with the CA Department of Education if you add another student you decided to bring home mid-year, enrolled one (or more) of your students in another school, or moved out of state. Any changes would simply be reflected when filing the PSA the following year (or by not filing, if you have moved out of state or enrolled your children in another school).

Still have more questions? Join us on October 5 for CHEA’s Annual PSA Filing Party or reach out to our office during business hours (Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) at 562-864-2432 or email us at [email protected].

We are not lawyers. The information included in this article does not constitute legal advice.