Establishing Your Private School

Ecology house in handsHome educators may establish a private school based in their home by filing a Private School Affidavit (PSA) with the California Department of Education (CDE).

Where and When to File the PSA

The PSA may be filed online at the California Department of Education website from October 1 to October 15 of every year. Schools that are created after the filing period should file at the time the school is established.  CHN recommends that you file electronically using the CDE’s online form. If you provide a working email address, you will immediately receive a confirmation number and a link to view your PSA online.  Keep that information in case anyone requests a confirmation!  Web address for the on-line form (under 6 students) is:  http://www3.cde.ca.gov/psa/form.asp?formtype=blank or click on the button below.  The CDE does not accept affidavits during the months of August and September, even if your school begins during these months.

Issues with submitting the PSA: Try switching to another browser, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.

 

On-line form to file 2017-2018 PSA

Once you submit the form and receive your confirmation number, you should print a copy for your records.

Need help filling out the PSA? CHN has detailed line by line instructions for completing the online PSA  (this information is updated every year in October after the new PSA is available online).  Click on the button below for instructions.

CHN’s line-by-line instructions for 2017-2018 PSA

If you need to file your affidavit and cannot do so electronically, you have two choices.  First, you may request a paper PSA from the state. To receive a paper PSA, e-mail privateschools@cde.ca.gov or call (916) 445-7331. Secondly, CHN has developed a “Statement in Lieu” that has been accepted by the CDE.

How the Private School Affidavit Works

The affidavit does not license, evaluate, recognize, approve of, or endorse a private school. The State of California accredits neither public nor private schools. The affidavit itself is a statistical tool, and necessary to effect the pupil’s exemption from compulsory public school enrollment and attendance. By filing an affidavit you are showing intent to establish a private school, and informing the state, as required by law. Parents have been legally using this provision for many years to conduct their own home-based private schools.

California Private School Requirements

Education Code sections §48222, §48415, §33190, §51210 and §51220 set the criteria for a private school. The following legal requirements apply to all private schools regardless of size:

  1. The administrator of every private school must file an affidavit with the Superintendent of Public Instruction between October 1 and October 15 of each year.
  2. Private school instructors must be “capable of teaching.” There is, however, no requirement in the CA Education Code that mandates that teachers in a private school setting hold a state teaching credential or have the equivalent training.
  3. The names and addresses, including city and street, of the faculty must be kept on file, as must a record of the educational qualifications of each instructor.
  4. Instruction must be in English.
  5. Instruction must be offered “in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools.” The materials and methods you use to teach these areas are up to you. You are not required to teach every subject as long as it is offered and available to the student:
  6. Grades 1-6: English, math, social sciences, science, fine arts, health and physical education.
  7. Grades 7-12: All that is included in the above plus foreign language, applied arts, vocational education, and driver’s education.

CHN’s School Record Keeping page has links to forms and examples to help you understand the record keeping requirements.

Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

Should I file a PSA for Preschool and/or Kindergarten?

Kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in California. A child is subject to compulsory education and entry into the first grade the year he/she turns 6 before September 1. You may, of course, teach your preschooler and five-year-old at home. Do not, however, indicate enrollment of these children on your affidavit.

Why is the Private School Affidavit filing deadline Oct. 1 - 15th?

The date is set by California Educational Code §33190, and it’s for all private schools. Years ago, homeschoolers researched the ed code and discovered that this law that was written for traditional private schools could also be used by parents who wanted to be in compliance with the law while homeschooling.  Most schools (including many homeschools) start in August or September.  It’s thought that the logic of October filing is that by then most kids will be settled for the school year and that gives the State better statistical information. The October filing date is for existing private schools, and is a notification for that school year.  If a private school is established later in the year, the PSA can be filed then.  If your home based private school is established during the summer months, get the required paperwork in order  and pick a date to begin homeschooling, but wait until October 1-15 to file the affidavit. To find out what paperwork is required, please see the Keeping Private School Records page.

Do I have to make my final decision whether or not to homeschool before Oct. 15th?

California has a compulsory education law, so you should decide one of the legal options  before your local school starts (usually in August or September).  That might also involve withdrawing your child from a school if he/she was previously enrolled there. There is never a final decision for homeschooling or enrolling in a school.  Changes can be made during the school year in order to best meet the needs of the child.  Therefore, October 15th isn’t your deadline if your child is enrolled in another school.  If you decide to homeschool independently later in the year, you can file then.

Should I file a PSA if I am using a correspondence school?

In some instances, yes, you may need to file a PSA. Families enrolled in out-of-state programs are required by law to be enrolled in a California private school. Sometimes, the program has an office in California, and files the PSA. If it doesn’t, it will be up to you to file an affidavit or enroll in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP).

Am I required to submit a fingerprint check?

According to California Educational Code §44237(b)(4), the fingerprinting requirement does not apply to a “parent or legal guardian working exclusively with his or her own children.” CHN uncovered this information in 1999, and homeschoolers have been spared this nuisance and expense ever since. For those who wonder why they should bother joining a state group, this is a perfect example. As an organized group, we are making a difference!

If my county or school district asks for further information from me, what should I do?

Sometimes a polite reminder is necessary that the only information that the state can ask of private schools is that which is listed in California Education §33190.

Who should file a PSA?

File an affidavit if your child is not in a public school program (charter school or ISP) and you have not enrolled your child in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP). Continue to file every year between October 1-15.

If you still have questions, call your CHN Local Contact or The Homeschool Hotline at (800) 327-5339 for more information. Email the Legal Rights Committee about any problems you may have with Department of Education officials.

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