A California state court has handed down a ruling that, if not overturned, is bad news for home schoolers in the state.
The Home School Legal Defense Association was not involved in the case. The family in question were not HSLDA members, and HSLDA says that it's still digesting the legal issues but considers the ruling prima facie incorrect and hopes to help in an appeal.
The legal situation for home schoolers in CA as I understand it is this: Home schooling is not mentioned in California law, but private schooling is. Home schoolers register with the Department of Education as small private schools with just the number of students that they actually educate. Typically, of course, this would be their own children. This interpretation of California law has been accepted by most California education officials, although from time to time one hears rumblings that a new official has said that schools in a home cannot be private schools. It's quite evident, however, from the long-standing use of the private school option, that California law does not address the definition of a "private school" in a way that decides the issue one way or another, particularly not in a way that defines a private school as, for example, one in which most students are taught by someone other than their parents, one that has a separate building of its own, and so forth. So with occasional speed bumps, the private school option has worked well for California home schoolers.
The new court ruling apparently states that parents cannot teach their children at home without a special teaching credential. It seems to me that this ruling must do one of three things: The ruling might assume that home schools simply cannot be considered private schools under state law and that they therefore can be regulated directly by the courts on an ad hoc basis as an entirely different category unaddressed by statutory law at all. Second, the ruling might be based on a requirement for teacher accreditation in private schools. But I very much doubt that this is the case. I don't think the HSLDA would have encouraged parents for all these years to register without state accreditation as private schoolers if private schoolers are required to have state accreditation! I am, of course, open to correction on this point, but HSLDA is pretty careful to abide by the letter of the law, so I would be astonished if all private (e.g., church school) teachers in California have to be state accredited. Very often religious school teachers do not, in my experience. Or, third, the ruling could be treating private schools carried on in a private home differently from private schools carried on in a bricks-and-mortar building, requiring credentials for the former that are not required for the latter. This would be an entirely judge-made law, if so, and it should not stand up to scrutiny at a higher court level.
My own preference would be for the appeal to be based on these arguments rather than on a supposed "fundamental right to home school," the existence of which I rather doubt. But if state law does not rule out private schooling in private homes, then it is not up to a judge to declare that such schooling is ruled out nor to treat home schoolers differently from other private schoolers. The matter should be referred to the legislature which can, if it wishes, define "private school" so as to exclude home schoolers. But liberal though the state is, this has not happened yet, so I doubt that it would happen now. It appears that if home schooling falls in California, it will be to legislation from the bench.