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California State Laws
Governing Home Schooling
Home School Statutes:
There are no statutes in California at this time dealing
specifically and exclusively with private home education.
Compulsory attendance in public schools is required for
all pupils from the age of 6 years until the age of 18 years [E.C. 48200,
48400, et al.], with special provisions for 16 to 18 year olds [E.C. 48410],
and with the legal alternatives provided by the following four exemptions.
Alternative Statutes Allowing for Home Schools:
1) Home educators may establish a private school, based
in their home, and file a private school affidavit with the Superintendent
of Public Instruction of California (normally between October 1 stand 15th
every school year). [E.C. 48222 and 33190] Under this provision, which
applies to all private schools:
a. the instructors must be capable of teaching;
2) Home schooling parents may enroll their children in a
private school satellite program which has filed a private school affidavit
with the Superintendent of Public Instruction of California [same legal
exemption and requirements as #1 above]. These satellite schools are often
called ISPs (independent study programs). They may be composed entirely
of home educators or be an extension program of a campus-based private
school. There is technically no more or no less legal protection or covering
in our current Education Codes [E.C. 33190 & 48222] for either options
(1) or (2)above. Recent legal contacts and legal action have involved both
kinds of arrangements. Both of these arrangements are legal but both are
repeatedly challenged legally. In some areas and cases, you may be less
likely to be contacted and/or legally challenged if you are in an ISP-type
program. For both options (1) and (2), parents should properly state that
their children are enrolled in a private school when communicating with
school or other officials. Families enrolled in Out-of-State schools/programs
are still required by state law to be enrolled in a California private
school (single-based or satellite/ISP) with a California address for its
location. It is unnecessary and unwise to voluntarily mention enrollment
in out-of-state schools/programs. It is not illegal in California to be
enrolled in an out-of-state program, as long as it is represented as a
source of curriculum and/or services and not as a means of legal compliance.
Public school pupil records (called cum files) should be sent for but not
by an out-of-state program.
b. the instruction must be in English;
c. the instruction must be in the several branches of
study required in public schools;
d. certain pupil and school records must be on file;
e. Health Department forms (PM 171A and PM 286) must
be on file [H.S.C. 324.2 and 323.5].
3) A home schooling parent with a valid California teacher's
credential for the grades and subjects taught may be exempted under the
private tutorial exemption. [E.C. 48224]
4) The home-schooled pupil may enroll in a public school
independent study program (ISP) [E.C. 51745] if available in your school
district or county. In this education program, the home-schooling family
is totally under the authority of the public schools. This is not an endorsement
of this option. This is a parent's choice. There are several problems with
enrollment in public school home study programs (ISPs).
None, if home school registers as a private school, or
enrolls in an independent study program with a private school. Certification
is necessary only if the home school parent chooses to qualify as a private
Not required by statute.
According to both the U.S. Constitution and California
statutes, home-based private education is legal. However, there continue
to be challenges which are a potential direct threat to any home educator
in California. These challenges are based on erroneous charges of either
truancy or child abuse/neglect:
1) Charge of Truancy - an Infraction (not a misdemeanor
orfelony). [CA E.C. 48220, et al.] This charge is used more than 95% of
the time in legal challenges to home education in California.
2) Charge of Child Abuse/Neglect - rare, but can involve
temporary or permanent loss of custody of children.
Summary of the Law
The California Education Code says in Section 48200, "Allchildren
between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend a public full-time day school
unless otherwise exempted." This includes home educated children. In addition,
Section 48400 says all persons 16-18 years old not otherwise exempted must
attend school for "notless than four 60-minute hours per week for the regularly
established annual school term." According to the California State Department
of education, quoted in a 1988 memo from the Office of Guidance Support
Services, there are three options available to parents who want to teach
their children at home:
Private Tutoring done by a California credentialed teacher.
The credential must be for the appropriate grade level and teaching must
be in the courses of study required in the public schools. Tutoring must
be done for at least three hours a day for at least 175 days per year.
No affidavit is required of the tutor. (Section 48224: Students being taught
under this provision are legally exempted from compulsory attendance at
Independent study through the local public school.
The student must be enrolled in the public school and
work under a written agreement that specifies minimum requirements. This
program is developed through the local school district. (Section 51745)
Or the student can be enrolled in an independent study with a local private
school. (Title 5 Sections 11700-11703 of the Administration Code.)
Private School Enrollment
"The law does not set any minimum standards for private schools
with regard to facility, number of students, or credential of persons teaching
in such schools. The law requires private schools to file a Private School
Affidavit with the State Department of Education disclosing certain information."
"This affidavit is intended solely to register private schools for statistical
reporting purposes, and is not a license or approval to operate a private
school or to teach at home." (Section 48222) Students being taught under
this provision are legally exempted from compulsory attendance at public
Courses Required to be Taught
in Private Schools
State of California Education Code Section 51210
Grades 1 - 6
English - speaking, reading, listening, spelling, handwriting,
composition, and knowledge and appreciation for literature and language.
Mathematics - concepts, operational skills, and problem
Science - biological and physical aspects, with emphasis
on the processes of experimental inquiry and on man's place in ecological
Fine Arts - instruction in art and music, aimed at the
development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
Physical Education - physical activities conducive to
the health and vigor of body and mind, for at least 200 minutes each 10
Health - principle and practices of individual, family
and community health and including effects of alcohol, narcotics, drugs,
Social Sciences - anthropology, economics, geography,
history, political science, psychology, and sociology to fit the maturity
of the pupils; foundation for understanding history, resources, development,
and government of California, and the United States; American economic
system, including entrepreneurs and labor; man's relations to his human
and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations;
Grades 7 - 12
(in addition to requirements for Grades 1 - 6)
Social Sciences - American legal system, operation of juvenile
and adult criminal justice systems, rights and duties of citizens under
the criminal and civil law and the State and Federal Constitutions; human
rights issues, with attention to the inhumanity of genocide.
Science - emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes
of scientific investigation and on man's place in the ecological system,
and interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.
Foreign Language - to begin at 7th Grade, understanding,
speaking, reading and writing the particular language.
Fine Arts - add drama and skills of creative expression.
Applied Arts - consumer and homemaking education, industrial
arts, general business education, or general agriculture.
Vocational - Technical Education - preparing youth for
Automobile Driver Education - including motorcycle safety.
High School Graduation Requirements
English - 3 courses
Mathematics - 2 courses
Science - 2 courses, including biological and physical
Social Studies - 3 courses including U.S. History &
Geography, world history, culture & geography and one semester of American
Government and civics, and one semester of economics.
Visual or Performing Arts - 1 course, may substitute
for foreign language
Foreign Language - 1 course, may substitute visual or
performing arts or American Sign Language.
Physical Education - 2 courses, unless exempted
Required of all students in all grades in addition to
the above - the role in history of: men/women black Americans, American
Indians, Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people, and other ethnic
groups. Wise use of natural resources and protection of personal and public
safety. Accident prevention, emergency first aid, hemorrhage control, treatment
for poisoning, resuscitation, fire prevention.
The Education Code
CA Ed. Code 48222
...shall offer instruction in the several branches of
studyrequired to be taught in the public schools of the state...
CA Ed. Code 51220 - Areas of study: grades 7 -
The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive,
shall offer courses in the following areas of study:
a) ENGLISH, including knowledge of and appreciation for
literature, language, and composition and the skills of reading, listening,
b) SOCIAL SCIENCES, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology,
economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology,
designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a
foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government
of California and the United States of America; instruction in our American
legal system, the operation of the juvenile and adult criminal justice
systems, and the rights and duties of citizens under the criminal and civil
law and the State and Federal Constitutions; the development of the American
economic system including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; man's
relations to his human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures
and civilizations; human rights issues, with particular attention to the
study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and theHolocaust, and contemporary
c) FOREIGN LANGUAGE or languages, beginning not later
than grade 7, designed to develop a facility for understanding, speaking,
reading, and writing the particular language.
d) PHYSICAL EDUCATION, with emphasis given to physical
activities that are conducive to health and to vigor of body and mind.
e) SCIENCE, including the physical and biological aspects,with
emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation
and on man's place in the ecological systems, and with appropriate applications
of the interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.
f) MATHEMATICS, including instruction designed to develop
mathematical understandings, operational skills, and insight into problem-solving
g) FINE ARTS, including art, music, or drama, with emphasis
upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
h) APPLIED ARTS, including instruction in the areas of
consumer and homemaking education, industrial arts, general business education,
or general agriculture.
i) VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL EDUCATION designed and conducted
for the purpose of preparing youth for gainful employment in the occupations
and in the numbers that are appropriate to the man power needs of the state
and the community served and relevant to the career desires and needs of
j) AUTOMOBILE DRIVER EDUCATION, designed to develop a
knowledge of the provisions of the Vehicle Code and other laws of this
state relating to the operation of motor vehicles, a proper acceptance
of personal responsibility in traffic, a true appreciation of the causes,
seriousness and consequences of traffic accidents, and to develop the knowledge
and attitudes necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles. A course
in automobile driver education shall include education in the safe operation
k) Other studies as may be prescribed by the governing
CA Ed. Code 51220.5 (c) & (e)
Commencing with the 1994©1995 school year, the adopted
course of study for grade 7 or 8 shall include the equivalent of a one-semester
course in PARENTING SKILLS and education... with content designed to develop
a knowledge of topics including, but not limited to, all of the following:
1) Child growth and development
This section is not intended to replace existing courses
that accomplish the intent of this section. School districts may meet the
requirements of this section with existing courses of study offered in
any of grades 6 to 9, inclusive, that includes the course contents identified...
2) Parental responsibilities
3) Household budgeting
4) Child abuse and neglect issues
5) Personal hygiene
6) Maintaining healthy relationships
7) Teen parenting issues
CA Ed. Code 51220.1
In addition to the requirements specified in subdivision
(j)of Section 51220, automobile driver education shall be designed to develop
a knowledge of the dangers involved in consuming alcohol or drugs in connection
with the operation of a motor vehicle.
CA Ed. Code 51221
Instruction required by subdivision (b) of Section 51220
in the area of study of social sciences shall also provide a foundation
for understanding the wise use of natural resources.