Calif. Homeschooling Case May Be Dismissed

A major legal development in a children welfare case that led to the widely criticized homeschooling ban should be grounds for the appellate court to dismiss the California homeschooling case, advocates say.

In February, an appellate court in Los Angeles declared it a crime for parents without credentials to teach their kids, essentially banning most forms of homeschooling. The ruling sparked public outrage causing the court to agree to honor the request of homeschooling advocates to vacate the controversial decision and revisit the case again. The court heard oral arguments in the case in late June and was expected to hand down a decision.

But after the family judge overseeing the two homeschooled children at the center of the case terminated his jurisdiction last Thursday, homeschool advocates are asking the court to drop the homeschooling case altogether.

They argue that since the petition filed by the court-appointed lawyers for the two youngest children of Mary and Phillip Long have been dismissed, the homeschooling case that was based on the two-year-old petition should be declared moot.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing Sunland Christian School – the homeschool program the Longs used in the case – said the family court's decision is a "major development which should, for all practical purposes, end this case."

"Again and again, the court-appointed attorneys for the (Long) children have relied on the oversight of the juvenile court as the basis for seeking a ruling that this family cannot homeschool," Dacus explained in a statement.

"By terminating its jurisdiction, the court has severely undercut this position and yanked the rug out from all who have sought to use this case to criminalize homeschooling," he added.

Mike Farris, chairman and founder of Home School Legal Defense Association, was also optimistic of the impact that the juvenile court's move would have on homeschooling.

"This is a significant favorable development toward preserving homeschooling freedom in California," he said.

His remarks were included in an update on the HSLDA Web site that asked supporters to "Keep Praying!"